February 21, 2017
How synovial sarcoma has helped me become a better person
BY Austin Williamson
As someone who’s still in the midst of his cancer journey, I can honestly tell you that having cancer isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, living life and enjoying it is not only possible; it can be better than before cancer.
My cancer journey began in May 2014, when I was 26. It started with extreme pain in my right foot, which became bearable, but didn’t go away. I went to the doctor and was treated for plantar fasciitis. But as months passed, the pain worsened and eventually, my foot swelled so much that my toes no longer touched the floor.
I finally got an MRI in the spring of 2015, and it revealed a 14-centimeter tumor on the bottom on my foot and through my ankle. I had synovial sarcoma, a rare type of soft-tissue sarcoma. At that time, doctors were certain about only one thing: my leg needed to be amputated below the knee.
Choosing my reaction to my synovial sarcoma diagnosis
After further evaluation, I found out that the cancer had spread to both of my lungs. I gave myself two options: write a bucket list and start checking things off, or live life to the fullest in spite of my disease.
I chose the latter because I thought it was more honoring to God, and it could help me become a better Christian, husband, son, friend, volunteer and entrepreneur.
My road to self-improvement
And it has. Having cancer has taught me not to take time for granted. Spending time with my family and friends has always been my top priority, but now I really savor every moment I have with them. It’s brought out the best in the people I know, and it’s shown me how much support I actually have in my life.
Cancer has empowered me to try new things I might’ve otherwise brushed off, and I now thoroughly appreciate doing the hobbies that I love. I’ve gotten involved in adaptive sports, which include cycling, track and field, and sitting volleyball. I’ve even tried out wakeboarding and wakesurfing. I’m also looking forward to getting back to hiking, camping, and skiing soon.
On a spiritual level, my faith has grown since my synovial sarcoma diagnosis. I use prayer to calm my nerves and ease my anxiety so that I can focus on my priorities. I still have ups and downs, but I’m getting better at focusing more on the good. And when things get tough, I often find myself repeating this small yet powerful prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot control, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Let cancer bring out the best in you
Although my journey hasn’t been easy – so far I’ve been through an amputation, a clinical trial and 17 rounds of chemotherapy – I know I’ve made it this far because of my faith, family and friends. I’m hopeful that I’m headed toward remission, but regardless of the outcome, I believe that being a cancer patient has made me a better person -- even if I don’t always feel that way.
So if you’re a newly diagnosed cancer patient, here’s my advice to you: Your life will certainly change, but being a cancer patient can be rewarding if you choose to let your diagnosis bring your family closer together and bring out the best in you.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
Your life will certainly change, but being a cancer patient can be rewarding.