Columbia City Councilwoman Leona Plaugh announced Wednesday that she is completely cancer-free after having her right leg amputated six weeks ago.
After being aggressively treated for a recurrence of a rare form of cancer in her leg since December, Plaugh made the decision to have it amputated after a unanimous recommendation from a panel of doctors at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
The cancer was not anywhere else in her body, said Plaugh, who represents council’s District 4 in southeast Columbia.
“There is no doubt that now I have difficult challenges ahead of me,” Plaugh said, standing on crutches and flanked by her fellow City Council members at a Wednesday news conference at her home. “But what’s new?”
Plaugh was first diagnosed with a form of cancer called extraskeletal soft tissue osteosarcoma last summer and had surgery to remove a mass from her right leg. The cancer returned several months later, and Plaugh underwent several rounds of chemotheraphy in Houston.
The amputation was performed Aug. 31, and Plaugh returned to Columbia about two weeks ago, just days before the city was struck by historic flooding.
“Here, too, we must all have that positive outlook,” Plaugh said, likening the city’s difficult road to recovery to her own. “This flood may have taken a great deal from a great many, but it did not take the spirit of our citizens.”
Mayor Steve Benjamin and council welcomed back their colleague, who is valued for bringing “positive tension” to council discussions, Benjamin said.
“Anyone who knows Leona Plaugh knows she’s a fighter,” Benjamin said. “We’re thankful to have her back.”
Plaugh said her next health steps are physical therapy and beginning the process of acquiring a prosthesis.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.