My name is Allison. In April of 2012, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma in my left distal femur. At that time my orthopedic oncologist removed the tumor and placed a cadaver femur. The cadaver femur was not healing as quickly as my doctor was expecting. Six months later, in October of 2012, I found out I relapsed. Not only did I relapse in my leg, but tumors were found in my left lung as well. The cadaver femur came out and a metal femur was placed along with a total knee replacement. A few weeks later the tumors in my lung were taken out through a very painful thoracotomy. I completed 30 rounds of high dose radiation to my leg Valentine’s Day of 2013 in which I suffered severe 2nd degree burns.
I was on crutches for about nine months and through rigorous Physical Therapy, I taught myself how to walk again. Since I had been on crutches for so long, my brain couldn’t remember how to tell my body how to walk. In September 2013, I did what I thought I would never be able to do again. I walked a 5K for Sarcoma research! It was a very emotional day as I had all of my friends and family there walking, along with my physical therapist who pushed me every week for months to help me walk again. So far I have raised a total of $4,300 for sarcoma research and that number keeps growing.
I continue to have scans every three months. I had two more tumors removed from my right lung in February 2014. I just had scans done recently, and unfortunately, they have found two more tumors in my right lung.
Ironically, at the time of diagnosis I had been working as an oncology Registered Nurse for about 4 1/2 years. I loved what I did, however, I decided once I was better it was time to move on from oncology as it hit too close to home for me. I now work as a pediatric surgery and pediatric plastic surgery nurse and I LOVE it. I even work with some of the surgeons who have operated on me. My husband and I are optimistic that we will have children of our own and pray every day that it happens for us. Working with children brightens my day!
I used to think “why me?” I am young, I am a good person, and I devote my life to helping others. These things aren’t supposed to happen to oncology nurses. But, I have to say for being a bad situation, I have had a lot of positive things come out of it. My surgeon saved my leg by getting clean margins by millimeters not only once, but TWICE. I can still walk, I have connected with so many wonderful people, it has brought my family and friends closer to me, I have raised a lot of money for sarcoma research, and most importantly…I am still alive two years out and I feel great. It is so easy to get stuck on the negatives, but I have chosen to focus on the positives.
“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up”- Jimmy Valvano
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!