JAY — Lauren Faeth had her right leg amputated below the knee last December, the day after taking her nursing boards. The start of the year was a struggle with medical complications, but she’s off and running. Literally.

The 24-year-old is hoping to run the Beach to Beacon 10-kilometer road race this year and the Boston Marathon in 2019.

Faeth survived a terrible car crash in July 2011, just as she was about to start her freshman year in college. A state trooper told her later that the head-on collision would have killed most people. It severely injured her foot and left her reeling from a traumatic brain injury.

She started college a year late, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in nursing and felt confident that amputating her leg, which had been increasingly painful and left her with an awkward gate, was key to restarting her life.

Between December 2016 and January 2017 she ended up having four surgeries in 34 days, but by March was well enough to start being fitted for a prosthetic. She connected with Steve Chamberland’s 50 Legs foundation in Florida, which helped offset prosthetic costs that insurance didn’t cover.

“They gave me hope when hope wasn’t, at that point, possible,” Faeth said. “The money that I put aside and the money that I fund-raised was enough to help with all the bills, but those all went to hospital bills and paying to get down to Florida.”

Her fittings took three trips.

Before her accident, Faeth had been active, playing soccer and running track and field. For her birthday in August, 50 Legs surprised her by covering the cost of a running blade. She’s since completed two 5k races and has a goal to run the Boston Marathon in 2019 as a fundraiser for 50 Legs.

Another goal: swimming a mile in the ocean during a triathlon next October.

“Running, it feels like I’ve never stopped,” she said. “I can say the amputation was the best decision I’ve made — I’ve got my life back. I’m a much better person; I’m happier.”

Faeth, a certified nursing assistant, didn’t pass her nursing boards last December and hasn’t yet had a chance to retake them. She’s working in a hospital, on the clerical side, but hopes to get back to hands-on patient work soon.

“I miss CNA stuff,” she said. “My ultimate dream, I’m trying to get into the (Veterans Administration). I want to help traumatic brain injury survivors, (post-traumatic stress disorder patients), but more so, amputees.”

The entire experience “gives me perspective,” Faeth said. “You don’t ever say to a patient, ‘I understand.’ You say, ‘I can relate.'”

And she can.

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Lauren Faeth is a CNA whose leg was amputated the day after taking her nursing boards last year. The Jay woman now sports a prosthetic leg and hopes to do some fundraising for 50 Legs, a charity that provides prosthetic legs and care to amputees. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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