My Story: I was 33 years old in January of 2014 when I was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in the right lower lung. I had a 6cm tumor that was thought to be pneumonia, then a collapsed lung. After many minsdiagnosises, a bronchoscope pulled out part of the tumor growing into the bronchial tube, and was biopsied. Before my respiratory virus that led to the diagnosis, I had no symptoms of the cancer besides being tired. But I had two little ones and exhaustion is expected! It was a complete shock as my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer 6 years prior. I thought, we’ve already done this; it just can’t be possible. Not knowing anything about sarcoma, yet being uncomfortable with treatment options here at home, we took our 1-year-old, 3-year-old, and parents and went across the country to MD Anderson. There, I started one round of chemotherapy when my bone marrow refused to recover due to a neutrophil antibody. After 6 weeks of waiting with no success of WBC recovery, I was scheduled for lung surgery. The week before my surgery, my husband was diagnosed with cancer a second time, a new primary of tesitular cancer on the other side. This too is very rare. He was scheduled for his own surgery one week after mine, followed by chemotherapy. I started my own chemotherapy regime 4 weeks post surgery, which continued for the next 9 months. We ended up living in Houston for 8 months total. Without having both sets of parents taking turns coming to Texas from Michigan to take care of me and the kids, and my husband’s amazing company that allowed him to work remotely, we would not have been able to receive the best treatment possible. God is the reason we survived this and are alive today.
My Words of Wisdom: I am blessed by cancer. If given the chance to go back in time and rewrite my story, I wouldn’t change anything. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have felt the love and compassion from so many people around me. I am still overwhelmed by the number of people who didn’t even know us, yet truly cared about our situation.
I still get wrapped up in the whirlwind of kids and the daily grind, but I’m more mindful than I’ve ever been. I’ve learned tools that I contribute to my survival, such as envisioning the outcome I want, meditating (that seriously could NOT be achieved pre-cancer), good nutrition and detox, and mainly, handing over part I can’t control to God.
I firmly believe that one should never ask prognosis, nor research it. I couldn’t read about my cancer online until now. Well, even two years later I’m still cautious about what I read about Synovial Sarcoma. I believe it puts ideas into the subconscious mind that the body then believes. No one knows when the end of our time will come, and there’s no sense dwelling on it. So much that you read online is negative and scary, and it’s not worth filling your head with those thoughts. People have survived the worst of cancers and so can you. I still suffer with anxiety at times, but try to instead put my energy and focus on what I can do with this to make a difference in the world versus the what ifs. Also, God gives his biggest battles to his strongest soldiers. I knew he was asking me to do something big and why would he save me if I wasn’t all in and all trusting. Believe with all of your heart that you CAN survive and you will.
Role of the Sarcoma Foundation of America: I wish I had known more about the Sarcoma Foundation of America when diagnosed. It’s difficult with a diagnosis, to push off the panic and urgency given by doctors and take time to research options. But my biggest advice is to rely on the foundation and take the time to do things right the first time.