This Blogger Turned A Death Sentence Into A Life Of Adventure

When Cax.Me Brutus won her battle with cancer but lost her leg to the disease, she flipped tragedy on its head and took control of her destiny, choosing to explore the world through her unique lens.

Though born in Brooklyn, New York, Cax.Me’s childhood was spent in rural Haiti. In a home perched high on a mountain, overlooking the ocean, Cax.Me had a near idyllic childhood, even in a country stricken with poverty and corruption. But when she was just fourteen, her carefree youth was rocked. While innocently playing hide and seek with friends, she fell to the ground in excruciating pain. Haitian doctors misdiagnosed her with an abscess, but her mother had the foresight to seek out a second opinion from experts in the States. It was February 25, 2005, when Cax.Me was told that she suffered from Osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer which had already metastasized to her lungs. At the time she didn’t know that she was given only three weeks to live, years later her mother would tell her this horrifying news.

Even though Cax.Me spent summers in the U.S., she barely spoke English, giving her a limited understanding of her medical condition.

“As a teenager, I didn’t know what cancer was. My only reference point was stories of friends’ family members who had died from the disease.”

But that didn’t weigh her down. After hip surgery to remove her tumor, she faced her cancer head on, amazing her doctors with how well both she and her body were fighting back. After two years, thanks to a clinical trial and hard work doing everything she could to stay healthy, the cancer in her lungs disappeared. But with this rush of relief came another blow.  Although cancer-free in the lungs, her body was so exhausted from chemo treatments it rejected the foreign substance used to replace her hipbone. There was no choice but to undergo an above-the-knee amputation, a memory so dark that Cax.Me admits she didn’t think she would get through it alive.  When faced with this grim reality, Cax.Me says it felt as if her world was ending. “But because I believed I did everything I could, I knew it was just time to let go,” she recalls. Upon waking up from her surgery, she remembers the surreal experience of looking down and not seeing a part of her body that had always been there. Though feeling liberated in some ways, she couldn’t look at herself for the first week. It took time to get used to her new normal.

Cax.Me says that a few things got her through this immeasurably challenging time.

“For one, primal instinct dictates wanting to survive. As a human being, you just do everything you can,” she says. “The support from family members – my sisters – and all the people around me, were an enormous motivator. And lastly, my curiosity, and the adventurous person in me powered through. I always wondered where I would be in five years and thought about all the things I wanted to accomplish.”

Cax.Me embraced the nickname “Mama Cax” because she thought it sounded like an older, wiser version of herself. Now, at 26 years old, her cancer is not only in remission, but she has a thriving travel and lifestyle blog where she posts everything from her passion for the Haitian dish “Fritay” to her love for colorful clothing and unique, exuberant style.  Cax.Me says that her strong urge to travel stems from when she went through chemo as a teen. “I promised myself that if I survived it, I would find a way to see the rest of the world,” she says. A two-week program for youth with disabilities in Costa Rica ultimately prompted an eight-month solo voyage to Southeast Asia where she taught English in Thailand and explored Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Though the plan was to travel with friends, one-by-one, they started to drop off. Cax.Me knew that she still had to go to prove her independence to herself. “When I got to Thailand, I thought, “what did I do?” she recalls. “But then I realized that so many people were there doing the same thing. I went alone but was never lonely.” She kept in touch with people back home via Facebook, and started her blog, to chronicle what it was like to travel the world from the vantage point of a black, physically challenged woman. From her unique narratives, people soon realized how traveling for someone like her is different, but certainly not off-limits. It became a way to show the world that hurdles and challenges can be conquered.

Cax.Me also began experimenting with her style. For as long as she can remember, her goal had been to sport a prosthetic leg that was as human looking as possible. But when she had a change of heart and decided that she didn’t want to hide her disability, she chose a basic metal piece that ultimately garnered pity from passers-by. She knew that neither choice represented her true sense of self. Over Instagram she discovered ALLELES  a Canadian company that creates intricately designed prosthetics that can be personalized by the wearer (a stand-out style depicts beautiful, artful scrolls). Now owning seven different ALLELES covers, Cax.Me says that her prosthetic legs serves as part of her self-expression. Her interaction with people has changed as well as random strangers aren’t throwing “God Bless” her way anymore. In fact, people have been known to come up to her and tell her how “badass” her leg covers are.

“Exposing my prosthetic leg in a fashionable way has heightened my confidence.”

Cax.Me’s love for travel has only accelerated; she’s going to Iceland this month and then has trips planned for Bermuda and Cuba. Regarding her website, she feels that maintaining her visibility and representation is critical.

“There’s gonna be a little girl out there who is just like me, growing up with no one who looks like her. My message to her is to keep fighting. You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. If you are going through a difficult time, think about your ideal trip, your dream job, your graduation day or your wedding day. Whatever perfect image in the future that pushes you to keep going, think about that. And if you need to, confide in a friend or a therapist, don’t ever think asking for help makes you weak.”

Special thanks to photographer Ashley Brutus and designers Coco and Breezy for the powerful images.  All other images in this post from Cax.Me’s Instagram


  • Anonymous says:

    This is awesome! What an inspiration to people suffering physical challenges or any challenge for that matter. Cax.Me you are so cool!!!! THANK YOU for sharing your incredible story!!! Love you style!! xo

  • Anonymous says:

    Cax.Me’s story is beyond inspiring. The fact that she didn’t let the loss of her amputation dictate her life is amazing. She is so confident and stylish too!!! You rock Cax.Me!!! <333

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