September Warrior – Derek

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Derek Schnapp - WarriorDerek was a teenager that made a point to enjoy life. No matter what was going on in his life, he made time for his friends and family. When first diagnosed at 13 years old, Derek faced the disease head on and insisted that no one be sad for him because he was going to be fine. He knew that determination and a positive attitude would go a long way in his battle, and he was right.

After a year of intense treatment, Derek got the news he waited to hear. He was in remission. The cancer was undetectable.  He started high school and joined his friends in making memories that would last a lifetime. He lived as any normal teenage boy would. He played video games, loved cars, played soccer, and was an avid Flyers fan. Derek beat what seemed like an impossible undertaking and wasn’t going to let anything hold him back. Then one day while playing goalie in his soccer game his junior year of high school, Derek pulled his groin muscle. The pain lasted longer than it should have so he and his patents decided that it was time to go to the doctor to get it checked out.
The doctor ran some tests and delivered the news no cancer patient that is in remission wants to hear: The cancer was back.

At 16 years old, Derek took the news the best he could. He knew there was a battle ahead of him and wasn’t going to let anything stop him. Derek’s diagnosis was rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare sarcoma that affects muscle and tissue. He was offered the opportunity to take part in a medical trial. He decided this was the best option for him because the only other choice Derek had was to receive traditional treatments that were developed in the 1970s.  Knowing the results of the existing treatments, Derek and his family knew their best option was to take part in this new trial. While receiving treatment in the trial, Derek received his driver’s license and bought his first car, went to his junior prom, and spent as much time with his friends and family as he could.

On August 4, 2010, Derek lost his battle, while being surrounded by family and friends. Never once did Derek or his family regret his participation in the trial. It is because Derek only had only two options for treatment his family has become so involved in the Sarcoma Foundation of America and continuing to work to find a cure. Derek’s passion to never give up has inspired all those that met him to help with finding the cure in our time.

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If you or a loved one has been impacted by sarcoma cancer, we encourage you to share your story.  Sharing your story can be such an inspiration to others who are dealing with sarcoma in their own life and remind us all of the urgency to find better treatments in order to make an impact on the devastation that sarcoma cancer brings. Let your experiences help others become involved with raising awareness!