Liposarcoma survivor: Cancer won’t stop me from achieving my goals
Before my liposarcoma diagnosis in November 2017, I was spending a lot of time at the gym. My focus was on improving my physical strength and overall well-being. But I was also sharing my workouts and recipes on social media, in hopes of inspiring others.
I started noticing that my right thigh looked bigger around September of last year. With all the strength training and conditioning I’d been doing, I just assumed the bulge was a muscle. And since it wasn’t causing me any pain or discomfort, I didn’t worry about it.
But after I filmed a workout video and posted it on social media, I received several messages from concerned viewers about it. It was particularly noticeable after I was stepping out of the shower one day, so I knew I needed to get it checked out. I got an MRI at the hospital where I work as a nurse. I was on the treadmill when my doctor called me with the results. She said she thought I had a soft tissue cancer called liposarcoma. From that moment on, my life changed.
My soft tissue sarcoma treatment
I cried and barely ate for days after my cancer diagnosis. I was only 42, and all I could think about was my two sons. I knew I needed to fight for them. I also wanted to go to the best place possible. So, I called MD Anderson.
I got an appointment with Dr. Maria Zarzour. She recommended six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. I knew even before I met her that I wanted to be very aggressive with my treatment, so I didn’t hesitate. I had my first chemotherapy infusion on Thanksgiving Day and my first radiation treatment in April.
After finishing my radiation treatments in May, I met with Dr. Robert Satcher to discuss surgery. The remaining tumor was embedded in my soft tissue and extended from the bottom of my thigh to the tip of my glute, but I felt very confident in his ability to remove it.
The five-hour surgery took place in June 2018. And Dr. Satcher was able to remove the entire tumor without the need for plastic surgery.
Cancer wasn’t going to hold me back
I was in the process of getting my second master’s degree in Nursing Education when I was diagnosed with cancer. So, when my graduation ceremony came around in April, it was really important to me that I participate. I had stayed focused on my studies while I was undergoing treatment. It provided a welcome distraction.
Dr. Zarzour made arrangements so that I could still attend graduation, even though I was undergoing treatment at the time. I was so grateful. I’d worked so hard as a single mother to further my education. It was an amazing feeling to finally be able to celebrate that accomplishment.
Getting my health back after soft tissue sarcoma treatment
Maintaining the fitness momentum I’d built up before my cancer diagnosis is also important to me. So, I’m undergoing physical therapy now and am slowly but surely starting to exercise again. I feel so lucky to still be active after everything I’ve been through.
When I think about my experience at MD Anderson now, I just feel thankful. I loved all of my doctors, and I can see why people want to go there. It’s not just that you’re getting the best in treatment, you’re getting the best care, too. The doctors make you feel important because they listen and show they care.
Sometimes, when you first receive a cancer diagnosis, you can get depressed and not feel like doing anything. But you have to shake off that feeling and keep pushing. You can’t give up, because you don’t know what the results are going to be in the end.