Osteosarcoma at the distal femur
Age at Diagnosis: 13
Date of Diagnosis: 1967
Diagnosis: I remember my girlfriend and I were practicing cheer-leading routines as we were about to enter 7th grade and we wanted to be cheerleaders. All of a sudden I hit my knee on my bicycle bar and from that point on, the pain would grow each day. Finally my mom sent me to a chiropractor and he told my mom to get me to an oncologist. The oncologist told my mom that I most likely had osteogenic sarcoma and he recommended that she take me home to die. My family doctor, who was bull headed and stubborn, made arrangements for me to get treatment at St. Mary’s hospital in Rochester MN.
Treatment and Metastasis: Back in those days, the leg was removed, not salvaged. My right leg was amputated above the knee. It’s been so many years that I really do not remember what drugs I was given, but I do remember being very sick. I was fitted with prosthesis and sent home. Every three months I received chest x-rays, as they said the cancer could metastasized. Well, it did, three times: 1968, 1969 and 1970.
Recovery and More Cancer: I went about twenty years without any more problems and then in 1996, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
Life Now: I have been fighting cancer for most of my life. People tell me I am too stubborn and too mean to die…..well, they could be right. However, just a few months ago, I developed a pressure sore on my rear (I now use a wheelchair to get around as I am OLD!) Well, the pressure sore didn’t heal and I ended up with a staph infection that settled into my one and only knee! I had to have knee surgery and my recovery has been really tough as my knee is very unstable and hurts most of the day.
People I meet and tell them what I have been through are amazed….however, my emotional health has been less than great. I suffered from depression, anger, and self pity. BUT, on the bright side, and this is HUGE, I do have a wonderful 27 year old son. Growing up with a disabled mom has made him into a warm and compassionate human being.
Thoughts and Hints for Patients: I really get frustrated when I see people still getting diagnosed with cancer. My diagnosis was over thirty years ago and I had hoped by now there would be a cure….HOWEVER, thank God, now docs can perform limb salvaging surgeries.
I am not the perfect survivor of cancer…but I have survived. My advice is to fight HARD! Don’t ever give up.