Wednesday Warrior – Kurt

Kurt Soper - Warrior

In 2007 I was working out doing squats when I felt a pinch in my left glute. This led to numbness and tingling in my leg which was initially diagnosed as sciatica. The pain continued for years and progressively got worse. In December 2011, I went to my primary care doctor to determine what was causing the problem. An initial x-ray and two MRI’s came back as inconclusive. I was referred to multiple doctors before finally being sent to an orthopedic oncologist at the University of Kansas Hospital. Dr. Templeton diagnosed me with a periosteal chondroma in my left pelvis. I immediately had surgery to remove the 6 1/2 inch tumor in my pelvis that was compressing my sciatic nerve causing the pain that I was experiencing over the last few years. Although most of the tumor was benign, final biopsy results revealed a portion of the tumor was stage 1 chondrosarcoma. Six months after my initial surgery I underwent a second surgery to remove several satellite tumors in my pelvis. My scans were then clean for one year until June 2013. In June 2013, scans revealed three new tumors in my pelvis. During the operation, two of the tumors which were located higher up in my pelvis were removed and determined to be stage 2 chondrosarcoma. The third tumor was the size of a softball and was located between the nerves that controlled my leg. In order to remove the tumor she would need to sever those nerves and leave me with a lifeless leg. My doctor then recommended that I have a hemipelvectomy performed to amputate my left leg and left side of my pelvis. The hemipelvectomy was performed one week later on June 27, 2013. My wife and I had just a few days to digest the information and really had very few resources at the time to rely on especially with such a rare amputation. This week I underwent my sixth surgery in the past 2 1/2 years for some “clean up,” but I’m happy to report that I’ve now been officially cancer-free for one year!

Since my amputation, I’m actually more active than I was with two legs. It has really made me appreciate life more and live each day to its fullest. I have found that I can do almost everything that I was able to do before. It’s quite amazing how your body learns to adapt. I’m in the best shape of my life now! I do hot yoga regularly which I’ve found to be a phenomenal work out to improve my strength, flexibility, balance, and has helped relieve muscle pains and soreness. I also have found rowing to be a great total body workout. I will be climbing my first 14er in August (Mt. Bierstadt) in Colorado on my forearm crutches. I also recently ran my first 5K on Father’s Day. It’s funny that I’ve ran farther on one leg than I ever did on two legs! In addition to hot yoga, rowing, and running, I also love to golf. Golfing was something I did not think I would be able to do again after my amputation due to being a hemipelvectomy. After a little bit of research and a lot of practice, I can say that I’m just as good, if not maybe even a better golfer than I was before my amputation. I golf on one leg without a prosthesis.

I’ve been blessed to have such a tremendous support group of family, friends, and co-workers. I’ve learned that life is really all about perspective. I believe I was dealt this hand for a reason and that is to help inspire and motivate others. I want to be able to turn such a negative experience into something positive and use my experience to help make me a stronger person. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me and being able to help others dealing with cancer and/or amputations.

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!