Rita’s Story on “NY Med”

It is not too often that sarcoma patients and their families see stories of sarcoma in the media.  After all, sarcoma is a little known cancer that doesn’t get the attention that other cancers do.  Part of the mission of the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA) is to change this perception– to shine the light on sarcoma and raise awareness.

So, the SFA is thrilled that all of America is about to hear the story of one courageous woman who was willing to share the details of her fight against sarcoma.  Rita Saverino Romeo, an SFA Board Member and 2011 SFA Courage Award recipient, will be featured in the final episode of ABC’s “NY Med,” a documentary series that follows the doctors and patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.  The episode featuring Rita will air at 10:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, August 22.  During the finale of the series, viewers will have the chance to see part of the 18-hour surgery Rita underwent to remove her grapefruit-sized tumor.

Rita Saverino Romeo

Why did Rita decide to share her story on national television?  We’ll let her tell you in her own words.

“Cancer was something that happened to other people, until it happened to me.  There is no good cancer, but when you are told you have a rare cancer, not only is your life turned upside down, but it seems that doctors forget to tell you about hope. And hope is exactly what is needed at this most challenging time.

After my diagnosis – and by the grace of God – there were many serendipitous events.  First, I found many survivors that beat the statistics and were shining examples of courage in action.  Then I found the Sarcoma Foundation of America, whose mission it is to advocate for more research for sarcoma therapies.  Lastly, I found Dr. Tomoaki Kato, who after looking at my scans said, “It is difficult, but possible.” After seven surgeons said that I was inoperable, this was music to my ears.  I remember thinking, “If he can do possible, I will do difficult.” 

Once the reality sunk in about my diagnosis, I realized that in addition to being positive about how I would deal with the cancer, I could make a difference by helping to raise awareness of sarcoma and raise research dollars for more therapies leading to a cure. 

There was yet another serendipitous event.  ABC was filming “NY Med” at Columbia Presbyterian around the time of my surgery.   Together with my husband, we agreed it would make sense to share our story if only to raise awareness for the need for more research for this orphan cancer and give hope to another sarcoma patient.

Rare does not need to mean fatal.  Unfortunately because of the limited research for this orphan cancer it often does mean fatal.”

You can help Rita in her desire to share this story with others.  Please tune in to “NY Med” at 10:00 pm EDT this Wednesday night.  Ask your friends and family to tune in as well.  Let’s all take advantage of this rare opportunity to raise awareness for sarcoma.

Want to know more about Rita and her “NY Med” appearance?  Check out these links for more information:

Synopsis of Rita’s Episode of “NY Med”

Rita’s “NY Med” profile