Ronette’s Story

Ewing’s sarcoma at the radius
Age at Diagnosis: 26
Date of Diagnosis: 2007
Location: Indiana
Hospital: Indiana University Medical Center
Team: Dr. Daniel Rushing, Dr. L. Daniel Wurtz

Diagnosis: I first saw an orthopedist in October 2003 after bumping my arm on a door frame. I noticed the next day there was some swelling and a lot of pain. After an x-ray, there was some sort of tumor in my distal radius (right above the wrist on the right arm) and was scheduled for a biopsy. That biopsy came back as necrotic marrow, negative for malignancy. Little did I know that three years later the biopsy was not done correctly and they only scratched the surface.

Well, in the summer of 2007, my arm looked like someone had slid an egg under my skin, and trying to squeeze things became almost impossible. After seeing the doctor I work for, he ordered an x-ray and it looked like someone had taken a bite out of bone. Part of the bone was more than half gone. After gathering my medical records and sending them to an orthopedist in South Bend, it was determined that I needed to see an orthopedic oncologist at IU Med Center. He saw me, told me that he suspected it was cancer, but hoping for a slow one since it had been there for three years.

An MRI and a biopsy later it was determined that I have Ewing’s sarcoma. That diagnosis scared me. I had a step uncle who lost his life to Ewing’s and I wasn’t ready to leave my family and two small kids. One week after the biopsy, I met my oncologist and was scheduled for my first round of chemotherapy four days later.

Treatment: The first day of chemo lasted about two hours and consisted of Cytoxen, Adriamycin, and Vincristin. Then 14 days later I was in the hospital for five days receiving Etoposide and Ifosfamide. After two of those cycles, the tumor wasn’t responding as well, so I was then admitted to the hospital for another five days receiving Etoposide, Ifosfamide, and Platinol every nine days. I did that treatment for a little over a month and was then scheduled for surgery. The surgery I had consisted of taking out my radius, from my wrist to about three inches below my elbow and once they got in there, they discovered the tumor was not only on my radius, but also my humerus. Both bones were then taken out and replaced with part of my fibula and a metal plate, called a radical resection with wrist fusion.

Recovery: My recovery from chemo, after the Adriamycin, Vincristin, and Cytoxen, took about three days for the fatigue to wear off and luckily I was only nauseated a couple of times throughout all the chemo. After having the Platinol, Ifosfamide, and Etoposide that took me a lot longer to bounce back. There was usually a day or two before I had my next treatment. The surgery has been a lot harder to recover from, a lot slower pace. After having my right leg and right arm cut on, it is taking a while to get back to normal. My surgery was Feb. 4, 2008 and I officially was in remission on Valentine’s Day 2008 because the tumor was 100% dead.

Life Now: My life has not changed much. I don’t have the use of my right wrist, and I have some movement issues with my thumb, but I’m adapting quite well. I’m looking forward to riding horses again, swimming with my kids and walking my son to school when he starts kindergarten in the fall. We’re going to Florida, and I still can play baseball with my son and push my daughter on her swing. Life is good.

Thoughts and Hints for Patients: I heard the most interesting stories from people. Yes I had those “weird lady with no hair looks”, but I never let my smile leave my face. I learned not to cancer define me, but I defined it. I didn’t change my life. I took my son to preschool when I could, and days that I was too tired, I leaned on my family and my faith in God. I had total confidence in my doctors and God. Find someone to lean on, confide in, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Journaling my thoughts helped a lot too as well as keeping a blog on myspace. I tried and am still trying to reach as many people as I can to educate them about Ewing’s and let others who have or had cancer that they can make it through and never give up the fight.

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