At age 39, I noticed a small lump about the size of a quarter in my lower abdomen. I had some previous surgery in that area and assumed it was scar tissue. Since it wasn’t causing any pain or issues, I did not go to the doctor. That same year, completely unrelated, I went on a mission to eat healthier and be more active. In that journey to become healthier I lost 60 pounds. With a slimmer waistline, that lump was now more prominent and about the size of a large orange. About the same time I started noticing shooting pain in my left leg (same side as the lump) and visited my primary doctor. Several doctor visits and scans later, the doctors suspected I had a hernia. I was scheduled for surgery to remove it. When I awoke from the surgery, the surgeon explain it was not a hernia but he had no idea what it was. Thankfully the surgeon realized this was something unusual and removed the mass as a whole and removed margins. After sending the tumor for testing and receiving second and third opinions, it was determined that I had a Malignant Solitary Fibrous Tumor, a form of Soft Tissue Sarcoma. My treatment plan was seven weeks of radiation. Three years later, I am still in remission!
Words of Wisdom: My cancer journey taught me a lot. I have always been an optimistic person but it taught me to slow down, put things into perspective, and practice gratitude every day! My goal is to live in the sunshine and be a shining light for the people around me. Since being diagnosed, I have had friends reach out to me when family members or in some cases, themselves, have been diagnosed with cancer and asked for advice on how to cope and move forward. I am grateful to be able to console and provide hope and smiles back into their day. It was important to surround myself with people who brought normalcy and happiness into my day but also understood when I was having a bad day. I found it very helpful to connect with online support groups and social media groups (like the SFA!). Reading the patients and survivors stories provided me hope and understanding. Sometimes it’s very therapeutic to know the person on the other end of the conversation truly understands!
Role of the Sarcoma Foundation of America: Knowledge provided strength for me when I was newly diagnosed. I searched and came across the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Their online resources provided channels to educate myself on sarcoma. After being declared in Remission, my heart was drawn to wanting to help spread awareness about sarcoma and help the sarcoma community. The opportunity popped up in front of me one day as I was browsing the SFA Facebook page – the Race to Cure Sarcoma™ ! I quickly looked to find a race located near me only to find there wasn’t one in my state. A quick message on their Facebook page led to them responding that they would love to bring the Race to Cure to Sarcoma™ to Virginia and asked if I would like to help make that happen! YES! Fast forward to October 2017 and the first annual Race to Cure Sarcoma™ was a success in Richmond, VA! The SFA also hosts the Sarcoma Patient Education Conferences which are great opportunities to learn and ask questions to Sarcoma experts. I am forever grateful to the SFA for their role in spreading awareness and raising funds for Sarcoma research. Research brings HOPE that one day we WILL find a cure for Sarcoma!