Diagnosed in 1986 with synovial sarcoma, Petra Tepper underwent an above-the-knee right-leg amputation at the age of 26. During her recovery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, she was visited by registered nurse, Paddy Rossbach. They soon hit it off and Paddy, herself a childhood amputee, became a mentor to Petra during her recovery process.
Paddy’s inspiration and support was not limited to Petra’s recovery. Petra was motivated to return to school and earned her Associate degree in nursing. When she was pinned at her graduation in 1999, Paddy did the honors. She also followed Paddy’s lead and became active in ASPIRE, the Amputee Coalition, and as a member of the U.S. Paralympics Team. Petra continued her pursuit of education and obtained a BSN in nursing and Master’s degree as a Clinical Nurse Leader.
The beginning of Petra’s journey as an amputee may have been influenced by Paddy, but she has continued to go above and beyond on her own. She serves as a volunteer Certified Peer Visitor (CPV) providing an invaluable resource to those directly affected by amputations. She has also assisted in the update of our Peer Support page, helped produce a National Limb Loss Resource Center® video, served as a patient demonstrator for student physical therapists, and successfully obtained a 2011 proclamation from Governor Chris Christie recognizing April as Limb Loss Awareness Month in New Jersey.
Asked why Petra has been such a committed supporter of the Amputee Coalition, she responded, “I love that you are here for us. I love working with your team. I love sending kids to camp!”
Today, Petra is a registered nurse where she has worked her entire 20-year career in orthopedics at what is now Hackensack Meridian Health. As a CPV, Petra is a known, trusted internal resource to her fellow nurses and physicians for patients in need. They recruit Petra to conduct peer visits.
During the pandemic, Petra’s regular nursing duties have been put on hold and she volunteered to assist front-line health care workers in caring for COVID-19 patients. When interviewed for this profile, she was heading into work for a 12-hour shift of “running” supplies to her colleagues caring for sick patients.
“The nurses who are taking care of patients are so selfless. The force of courage – knowing they are putting themselves at risk for contracting this virus – is awe inspiring. I watch them running. I see them crying. Please know, it is really great that people are staying home because our hospitals would be overrun,” Petra shared.
As if her volunteer work and efforts during the pandemic were not enough, Petra is also a dedicated financial supporter of the Amputee Coalition. Since 2016, she has hosted a fundraiser every other year to benefit the Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp. Together with her colleagues, she has donated thousands of dollars to send kids to the magical experience that is camp. This year was her third time hosting the fundraiser. Despite having to cut the fundraiser short and cancel the in-person event because of social distancing, Petra was still able to raise $3,600 to support Amp Camp.
Please join us in thanking Petra Tepper for her bravery, dedication, and generosity!