In April of 2016, Kristi Loyall discovered a lump on her right pinky toe. “My surgeon said there was like a 1 in 100,000 chance it’d be cancer,” Loyall told Select All. It was, and just a few days after being diagnosed, Loyall’s right foot had to be amputated. But Loyall knew she and her right foot weren’t done with each other just yet. She convinced her doctors to let her keep the foot — cleaned up, of course — and today the 25-year-old (and now cancer-free) Oklahoman runs an Instagram account called @OneFootWander devoted to photographing her lost limb.
So, Kristi, what was going through your head when you found out you were about to lose your foot?
Really, the first thought I had was to ask if I could keep it. My oncologist thought I was kidding.
That’s kind of amazing. Did you know what you’d do with it right then? Or did you just know you didn’t want to part with your foot forever?
I was thinking it’d be a cool conversation piece. Like if someone walked into my house and I was like “Hey, btw, that’s my real foot.”
What was the process like getting your medical team to, well, give you the foot?
After they realized I was serious I just had to sign some forms and constantly remind everyone I wanted to keep it. The nurse told me to tell everyone so it didn’t accidentally get disposed of.
Smart move. Once you got home with the foot what inspired you to start Instagramming with it?
One of my cousin’s friends said I should start an Instagram for it and I thought that was such a brilliant idea I just had to do it. There are a lot of strange pages but nothing quite like a real articulated human foot.
That is for sure. I think that’s why it jumped out to me. I also love the account name. Was that your idea? How did that come about?
Yeah, I had a few options, It was between ‘onefootwander’ and ‘onefootwonder.’ I think the one with the ‘o’ was taken already, and I liked wander better because I want to travel and photograph my foot.
Makes sense to me … as far as amputated-foot Instagram accounts go! So how do you pick where to shoot the foot?
I’ve always really had an interest in photography so I just try to get unusual shots, or things I know I can make a joke from.
What is your favorite place or position you’ve photographed your foot? What about the weirdest?
The weirdest was probably when I got a picture of my newborn nephew holding it. My favorite is probably the one with my dog, Kaizer. She’s my big blue-eyed baby. I also like taking photos of it at abandoned places. I’m into urban exploration.
Do people ever ask questions about it while you’re shooting?
People are always asking if it’s real. They don’t believe it when they see it, because it’s been whitened. Most people say really kind things, as opposed to being grossed out by it.
That’s good. So, what do you mean whitened? Is that what makes it look like the fake skeleton I remember from biology class?
Ha ha, yes, I think so. It was part of the articulation process. I’m not exactly sure what they did to get it so white, but I know they took the flesh off, then bugs ate the rest. And then they degreased and whitened it.
Wow, that’s, um, graphic! So this might be a strange question, but have you named the foot?
Ha ha, I have … my friends and I jokingly call it Achilles.
Solid name for a foot. So do you plan to keep up the Instagram account with Achilles?
Yeah! I’m hoping eventually I will actually be able to travel outside of Oklahoma with it.
That sounds great. A foot needs to see the world!
It’s true! And it gives me a reason to as well.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.