No shoulder, no problem: Liposarcoma survivor adjusts to life after amputation

Liposcarcoma survivor Tom Gattle has never let his amputated shoulder stop him from doing the things he loves. He goes fly fishing with a special rod. He enjoys bike rides with his friends using an recumbent bicycle. He hunts with a lightweight rifle. And he rides a horse with slightly less than perfect balance, he says. These adjustments haven’t always been easy, but for Tom, they’ve made it easier to give up his arm for life without liposarcoma, a type of soft tissue sarcoma.  “I had made up my mind that I was going to fight cancer at every turn,” he says. “It wasn’t ever a question for me.” But even with his determined attitude, his cancer treatment and recovery weren’t easy. Recognizing liposarcoma symptoms Tom wasn’t sure what was causing the numbness in his left hand around 2008. He visited a series of doctors near his Louisiana hometown, Lake Providence. Eventually, doctors found a mass wrapped around the brachial plexus in his left shoulder that resulted in numbness and the loss of use of his left hand. For years, Tom’s care team monitored the mass. But when it began to grow in 2017, he traveled across the country to see a specialist, who diagnosed him with liposarcoma. He underwent a round of chemotherapy, but after a month, the tumor wasn’t responding. At that point, Tom wanted to receive treatment closer to home, so he came to MD Anderson based on his doctor’s recommendation.  Coming to MD Anderson for liposarcoma treatment At MD Anderson, Tom saw sarcoma specialist Robert Benjamin, M.D., who re-examined him. Benjamin confirmed Tom’s diagnosis, but...