Chondrosarcoma at the Clavicle
Age at Diagnosis: 39
Year of Diagnosis: 2004
Location: New York State
Diagnosis: In July of 2004 I noticed a knot on the side of my neck just above the collarbone. I thought nothing of it and finally got around to seeing my doctor at the end of August. She diagnosed it as a cyst and refered me to a plastic surgeon to have it removed. The surgeon was not at all convinced that it was a cyst and ordered a chest x-ray, MRI, and needle biopsy of the mass. All results came back negative for cancer and surgery was scheduled for Oct 20, 2004. The surgery was a success and the surgeon removed as much of the mass as possible and sent it off to the lab for a final biopsy. He told me that it extended below the collarbone near the lung and jugular vein, therefore he did not want to touch it unless it was malignant, in otherwords if it was nothing let sleeping dogs lie.
Being a long suffering Red Sox fan, Oct 27 was my long awaited nirvana. As I hugged a coworker and fellow Red Sox fan I commented that I could now die a happy man. Unfortunately god heard me, apparently he takes such statements literally because the next day the plastic surgeon called and said that the mass was actually a milignant tumor, chondrosarcoma. When I tell that story people tell me I’m sick, my reponse to that is, why, because I like the Red Sox or because I got cancer? Ya gotta laugh or you’ll just cry.
Treatment: I met with my orthopedic oncologist, Dr Susan Bukata on November 1, 2004. She ordered another MRI as well as a bone scan. We both reviewed the results a week later. She would require a vascular surgeon as well since the tumor was resting next to the interior jugular vein. Surgery would require removal of a portion of the collarbone as well as removal of the vein. My surgery was performed on December 9, 2004, I turned 40 on December 10. I spent 4 days in the hospital and I spent 6 weeks on medical leave from work. The hospital was Strong Memorial Hospital located in Rochester NY. They have a bone cancer center there as well.
Recovery: I returned to work on February 2, I spent that month in physical therapy one day a week. PT consisted of stretching, I find that I have full range of motion and about the only thing that is tough is doing pushups or military presses since there is no collarbone to support the weight.
Life Now: I am seeing a mental health professional (shrink) to deal with the fact that I’m suffering from PTS. I have tests every 3 months, and I have found that I no longer look at life in the long term but I parcel it out in three month blocks. My next scans are in six weeks, and I’m already starting to think about them.
Thoughts and Hints for New Patients: Finding these groups was the best thing I could do. I have met some wonderful people that have a way of putting things in their proper perspective. Plus, I was able to learn about my cancer because all the info was right at my fingertips in one compact spot.