On January 31, 2012, I lost my dad to Sarcoma. That April he was to receive the SFA Courage Award, but never made it to the ceremony. He was diagnosed seven years earlier at age 57. He found a mass in his upper thigh after a minor fall from a ladder while working on the house. His doctors thought it was a hematoma; three months later it was found to be a mass the size of a football and he had a spattering of mets to his lungs. His diagnosis was an earth shattering blow for us all, it was just before Christmas. But then, a few weeks later, we were told his sarcoma was very slow growing and would likely not cause his death. He had radiation and surgery to remove the mass in his leg and then began his first of seven clinical trials over his seven years of sarcoma. He was determined to find a cure. He hated having these tiny tumors in his lungs. He hated that some would not get the time he had with more aggressive sarcomas. So he continued trial after trial. He was healthy, he was strong and then over that last summer we started to see him falter. He was losing his breath while doing yard work. A CT revealed that the tumors in his lungs were changing, they were growing and growing rapidly. By the fall, he needed oxygen and was in a lot of distress. Still, committed to yet another clinical trial, he was determined to beat this. He wasn’t ready to let sarcoma win, none of us were.
As our dad was losing his battle, my sister and I were waging a battle of our own. We were training for the Boston Marathon for Dana Farber Cancer Institute, raising $20,000 between the two of us for cancer research. We were doing this for our dad, in his honor. We made it through Christmas and then on January 15, 2012, we had an amazing 65th birthday party for our dad. Over 100 friends and family were there. He was glowing, the oxygen came off, he was out of the wheel chair. He really had the best time. The next weekend, he cheered my sister and I on from home as we ran a 16 mile race in the cold and ice in preparation for the marathon. Then, things seemed to rapidly decline. He was tired. On January 31, the eve of his and my mom’s 42nd wedding anniversary, he lost his battle. We all did. My sister and I kept training, my mom kept cheering us on…and on Marathon Monday we ran for our dad. 🙂 I ran again this year in his memory.
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!