Two-time synovial sarcoma survivor: Why I’m the luckiest person on the planet

I would like to say I survived cancer twice by being a positive
person. But that’s not entirely true. Cancer was the hardest thing in
the world. 

After a fun four years of running cross country and track in
high school, I decided to attend a local community college in Houston
while I figured out my life. I also decided to take care of the big,
annoying bump growing in my elbow joint, occasionally cutting off
circulation to my hand.  

That’s when my life came to a screeching halt. I was 20 years old,
and I was told I had synovial sarcoma in my left elbow. I had no idea
what that meant or what I needed to do. All I knew was that it was
cancer and I had better things to do.    

Family support kept me strong

My parents and five siblings also had to absorb my horrible news. I
felt guilty for burdening them with my cancer and so out of control.
But my parents are two of the strongest people I know. They kept their
game faces on, even though we all were confused and worried.

After surgery to remove my sarcoma, I went to MD Anderson, where I met the most amazing team
of doctors, including my sarcoma medical oncologist, Shreyaskumar Patel, M.D. I needed radiation and chemotherapy to ensure the cancer was completely
eliminated and to prevent a recurrence.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in a fog the whole
way home. But at some point, I decided to suck it up and accept my
situation. I needed to be strong, too.  

My sarcoma treatment side effects

Chemotherapy made me so sick, and I lost all of my hair. I was angry at the world
and wanted desperately to escape treatment and just be normal
again.

With the help of my parents, who took care of me every single day, I
finally made it to the end of my year of treatments. My hair grew
back, I started working as a waitress and moved into my own place. I
felt normal again.

Uncertainties and a recurrence 14 years later

Despite my return to normal, I kept wondering if I could get
pregnant after chemotherapy because it was so hard on my body.

As I got older, I began to accept that I might not have children.
So, I focused on work. I was a procurement coordinator in the oil and
gas industry.

Then, I felt a little bump in my left arm. An ultrasound revealed my
synovial sarcoma had returned 14 years later. How on earth was this
happening again?

Luckily, all I needed this time was surgery with MD Anderson’s Kelly Hunt, M.D. She and her team were
outstanding – my arm looks just fine and I am able to use my hand.

Love and kids after cancer

I landed a new procurement position in oil and gas. As time went by,
I realized I had a crush on my boss. The next thing I knew, we were in
love, he proposed to me and we booked two tickets to Las Vegas. The
week of our wedding we found out I was pregnant.

We had a beautiful baby girl ten months later in August 2016. Then
less than two months later, we found out I was pregnant with twins, a
girl and a boy. And I thought, “How on earth did my chemo-ravaged body
even get pregnant?” I couldn’t believe all these blessings were
pouring in. My twins were born in June 2017.

Never give up

With a loving husband, three beautiful kids and the ability to still
pursue my passion for running, I feel like the luckiest person on the
planet. (I am running my fifth marathon in Houston this January.)

When I started my sarcoma treatments 17 years ago, I never thought
God would bless me like this. Now, at 38 years old, I still don’t know
why I had cancer at age 20, or why I got cancer again, but I don’t
care. Cancer taught me some major life lessons to pass on to my
children. Hopefully, my journey will help my kids navigate their lives
or inspire them when they need it.

I plan to teach my kids what really matters in life: love, family,
hope, faith, strength and perseverance. I also hope my story will
remind those riding on the cancer ship to never give up — no matter
how long and crazy the ride.

Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by
calling 1-877-632-6789.