Frank Blackston hiking with his dog. At right:
Frank Blackston hiking with his dog. At right:
Inside the Stagecoach
January 31, 2022

‘I have worked very hard to get to my new normal, and I am living a full life’

After undergoing a leg amputation in 2019, Frank Blackston returned to work at Wells Fargo with support, flexibility, and accommodations helping him find a new normal that includes adventures like hiking, camping, and cross-country skiing.

In March 2019, I received an unexpected diagnosis: a rare, stage 4 cancer. The best chances for my survival required a right leg amputation in April 2019. It goes without saying that it was a very hard decision to make, and it required huge preparations. The recovery from the surgery was very difficult, and the subsequent chemotherapy was rough. I was out of the office for most of 2019 for treatment. However, my leaders and teammates supported me until I was ready to return to the office, which allowed me to focus on my recovery. I am incredibly grateful for that.

When I returned to work, my team continued to be supportive with flexibility for my appointments — LOTS of appointments. Having a prosthetic leg requires visits for equipment adjustments, repairs, fittings, etc. It is kind of like having a car — but with many more visits to the shop for maintenance, upkeep, and repair. Wells Fargo’s accommodation request program had a firm understanding of my situation and was extremely helpful. I remain impressed with the support Wells Fargo provided me throughout this entire experience.

Headshot of Frank Blackston
Frank Blackston says the support of his leaders and teammates allowed him to focus on his recovery after undergoing a right leg amputation.

What does having a disability mean to me? It means I need equipment to walk. It means I have to be willing to experiment to discover my new limits.

It means that doing the things I used to take for granted are a lot harder, take more planning, and need to be approached and executed differently. Studies estimate that above-knee amputees use 80-100% more energy to do things than a two-legged person. It means setting appropriate expectations and appreciating the victories, however small. And it means I have a whole new appreciation for insurance and technology. Prosthetic legs are very expensive, and this one has a microprocessor in my mechanical knee that keeps me safer by helping to prevent falls.

I want to remain visible and show what is still possible, even with a leg amputation. It was because other amputees shared their successes, as well as challenges and failures, that I knew what to expect, and more importantly, what is possible in my journey.

While I am very new on this journey, I now understand personally how terms such as “differently-abled” and "diverse abilities" can feel more empowering and appropriate. I have worked very hard to get to my new normal, and I am living a full life. Some of the adventures I’ve had with my new prosthetic leg include hiking/camping, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing (something new I picked up).

This would not be possible without the support of the loved ones in my life, the support of my work family and employer, and yes, insurance. 

This is Frank’s incredible story, and we are honored to have him play an active part in his adventures outdoors and within Wells Fargo. To create your own story, check out open roles here: www.wellsfargojobs.com