I am a 10+ year survivor of synovial cell sarcoma. I was going to physical therapy for my back and while doing some stretches, I kept feeling something in my lower abs. I thought it was a hernia so I went to one of those non-emergency clinics. The doctor started to press around and he just stopped and said, “that’s not a hernia.” He then told me to have a seat and that he would be right back. When he came back he said a surgeon friend of his was going to wait on me. It was nearly noon on a Friday and he was going out of town. It only took me a few minutes to get to his office. He felt it and called and scheduled a CT scan for that Monday. I was a little nervous but never thought it was cancer.
A few days after the scan I got a call from the surgeon. I was pretty nervous because he called, not a nurse. He said I had a fairly large mass between the skin and muscle and it had central dark area or something. I was kinda freaking out. He told me I would need surgery ASAP, but it looked like he could get it all out with no problem. I kinda remember saying ok and then hanging up. As soon as I hung up a woman I was dating called and said that she needed to tell me something. I remember saying ok, then I heard three words — “I am pregnant.” All I remember saying was, “could I call you back in just a few minutes?” I took a few breaths, sat down for a minute, then called back. I was really happy, to tell the truth, and scared to death at the same time. I had been a single dad for 12 years. I will never forget my mom’s reaction when I told her. I think she was crying because she was sad and happy at the same time…lol.
I had the surgery a week or so later. It is all a blur now. After surgery, he told me that he got it all and took out a large area around it about the size of a small football. It was mostly fat around it anyway. Then a day or two after surgery I noticed some pretty bad swelling and redness where they operated and went straight to the doctor. They had to remove the stitches and let a large amount of fluid drain out. I was told they were going to leave it open to heal from the inside out. It took almost four months to heal and it had to fully heal before chemo. My scans were clear and I had a PET scan come up clear. I remember asking my oncologist why I would need to do chemo. She said it was just to make sure that it was all wiped out. I started chemo in January 2005. I had six rounds of MAID chemo cocktail. Chemo sucked but I got through it, and really, I am a better man now for it.
So many things happened during that time — some good, some bad, some funny as hell, and a lot of sad things. There is just not room enough to write it all. But I have been cancer free ever since. I have a wife now (not my youngest girl’s mom). I have two great kids, Alysia who will be 25, and Panama who will be 10 soon. I don’t have a perfect life, but it is a good one. I also help as an administrator for the Sarcoma Alliance Facebook page. I think it is a survivor’s duty to help others get through sarcoma or any kind of cancer. We show that it is not a death sentence and that there is life after cancer, but you will not be the same person because it changes you. I think most who have gone through cancer and treatment will agree. You will be a better person. That is the strangest thing about cancer — how something so horrible can change you into someone better than you were.
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!