Chondrosarcoma at the scapula
Date of Diagnosis: June 2008
Age at Diagnosis: 43
Location: South Carolina
Surgeon: Dr. Bryan Moon
Diagnosis: I hurt my shoulder in the spring of 2006 playing basketball with my daughter. I went to the orthopedic surgeon, as I figured it was either a shoulder separation or rotator cuff problem. The doctor took x-rays, and said he thought it was shoulder instability, or weakened muscles from years of overuse playing baseball and volleyball. He prescribed several weeks of physical therapy that seemed to help for the rest of that year. I mentioned this to my family physician during my annual physical, and said that as long as I could handle the pain, that surgery should be avoided. He knew from personal experience that shoulder surgery was difficult and the rehabilitation was quite painful.
By the spring of 2009, my pain was increasing, and again I asked my family physician during my annual physical about when you decide it was time to take the plunge and have surgery. He asked me if the pain kept me awake at night, to which I replied, “Yes.” He told me then that it was time to do something. After my physical, I arranged to see the same orthopedic surgeon from two years earlier…figured I needed rotator cuff surgery.
X-rays showed bone growth on my scapula that wasn’t on the x-rays from two years prior, which indicated a previous fracture, so they wanted to do an MRI to see both, the bone growth and my rotator cuff. After the MRI, they said they wanted to refer me to an orthopedic oncologist (I didn’t know there was such a thing) to do a bone biopsy on the bone growth to be safe. It was diagnosed as a level 1 Chondrosarcoma approximately 7 X 7 X 5.2 cm tumor on my scapula.
Treatment: I was provided with two options. One was called the Tikhoff-Linberg procedure, where they remove my scapula and shoulder joint, and tie all the muscles back into my clavicle. The other option was a complete shoulder replacement with a titanium prosthesis. On August 15th, 2008, I had the complete shoulder replacement.
Recovery: I was placed in an immobilizing sling for 4 weeks, and then released to do physical therapy on my own, being that I had done physical therapy two years prior.
Life Now: Currently, at 6 months post-op, I have relatively good use of my arm. As long as it is below my chest and near my body, I can lift approximately 50-75 lbs. I will never have motion above my head, but can handle all of my everyday needs from my chest down. I have hopes of attempting to play golf within the next couple of weeks. I have tried to stay positive and keep attempting new things everyday.