In 2011, Kristi Loyall noticed a numbness in her right pinky toe.
After seeing various specialists through the years, Loyall, now 25, was finally diagnosed with cancer in April 2016 after having a lump removed from her foot that her surgeon had assumed was a lipoma. He had it screened for cancer as a precaution, and it tested positive.
“They told me it was epithelioid sarcoma, which is a type of soft-tissue sarcoma,” the Oklahoma-based water taxi driver tells PEOPLE. “I had already had an MRI to check and see if he got all the cancer during surgery and he didn’t, so he told me that the best option would be amputation.”
When Loyall got the news, she was surrounded by her family and best friend, so her first reaction was to make light of the situation.
“My reaction was to say something funny, so I said, ‘Well, can I keep my foot?’ ” she recalls. “Then I realized that I was serious and I wanted to keep my foot because I thought it would be pretty cool. It would be cool if someone came over to my house and I was like, ‘That’s my real foot right there.’ ”
Loyall received her cleaned and whitened foot back in September 2016, and started her @onefootwander Instagram account shortly after when her cousin’s friend suggested the idea. Loyall takes photos of her foot doing various activities and posed in different situations, and often includes funny captions and hashtags.
“It’s always fun,” she says of brainstorming ideas for her posts. “I try and come up with jokes or funny things to say or funny things to do with it.”
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Her Instagram account now has 11.7k followers, and Loyall says she is shocked by its popularity. She believes people have been drawn to the account because there are no other social media accounts quite like it.
“There’s not really any other Instagram accounts of amputated limbs!” says Loyall. “It’s probably the rarity or uniqueness.”
Whatever draws them to her page, Loyall hopes her followers find it funny.
“Honestly, I just want to make people laugh,” she says. “And if someone is going through a hard time similar to what I went through sees it, then they can find hope and realize their life’s not over.”