My Sarcoma Story – Heather

heatherMy Story: I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at 21 years old, three months shy of graduating from college. Like any cancer diagnosis, it was stunning. I was very active and healthy, but quickly learned that cancer doesn’t care. I started an aggressive and intense chemo treatment almost immediately and after a few months, my tumor shrank enough to have surgery that replaced the lower part of my femur, knee and upper tibia with a titanium rod (I also graduated between chemo treatments!). After a short break from chemo to recover from surgery and learn to walk again, I went through several more months of chemo. After treatment, I had to figure out this ‘new normal’ as a young adult cancer survivor. It was scary, yet I discovered support groups and cancer-related organizations that offered resources and opportunities to meet other young adult survivors. I felt such gratitude at being alive and having both of my legs. I soon started mentoring newly diagnosed patients, became a legislative advocate for several organizations, spoke at a variety of events to raise awareness of cancer issues, and more. I am now an 18-year cancer survivor and still remain passionate and active in the fight against cancer. I love being involved in these activities as I can help others and make a difference in the fight against cancer. It takes one person to make a positive change in the world. I hope to inspire others to be the next change!

My Words of Wisdom: It’s easy to get stuck in the anxiety, fear, sadness of having cancer. However, I have always found it easier to focus on the good things, gratitude and the joy of being alive. Yes, I have limitations and lifestyle changes from having a rod in place of my bone and side effects from chemo, but I try to focus on the many, many activities that I can do. I don’t let cancer run my life. I have met many amazing people because of this disease and learned so much about my own strength and determination. I love to surround myself with people who have the same positive outlook on life. I survived cancer – I have no intentions of sitting on the sidelines of life.

Role of the Sarcoma Foundation of America: The Sarcoma Foundation of America is important for its efforts on behalf of people affected by sarcomas. We need an organization to provide the platform for us to have a voice and raise awareness with our elected officials, media and public to ensure better research, information, resources and education is available to those touched by this disease.

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