CancerGuide: Inspirational Patient Stories
I was a 27 year old soccer player, and lover of any sport when I was diagnosed with a high grade (II to III) soft tissue sarcoma on my upper left thigh. The doctor told me that this kind of cancer was usually found in people over 60, on top of that that there were about 3000 cases a year in the USA, only about 300 of those in the lower extremities, and only about 10 at my age which made me think that I should have bought a Lotto ticket because I had a better chance to win the lotto than getting this kind of cancer!
The doctor asked me about my family's history, nothing there, no cancer or anything else. My grandfather died at almost 90, and my grandma died two weeks later of sadness. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs, so I was a "lucky" one. We debated the choices for surgery and its outcomes, we choose (me, my wife and family, as well as our doctor) to have surgery, brachotherapy (interior radiation for two days) and exterior radiation therapy for six weeks, 5 days a week. I was diagnosed at the end of January 2000, just a few months after I got married.
My surgery was done February 22, 2000. Over 75% of my left quadriceps muscle was taken out, not good for a soccer player, but I saved my leg. I was told (well my wife was told) while I was in surgery that it would take me at least 6 months to try to start walking again, and at least a year before I could start walking almost normally. After surgery and my first doctor check up to see the stitches, I told my doctor that I was going to walk in into his office. 3 weeks later, to his surprise, I walked in without the help of the crutches or the knee brace, as promised. I am really stubborn.
I went through the radiation, and I was able to start my physical therapy with success good enough to have my doctor let me be as aggressive as I could tolerate (I needed to recover movement because I only have less than 25% of the muscle left. I basically use my exterior muscle to walk and extend my leg, something that that muscle is not for. Also my knee was detached from the muscle to remove the tumor and surrounding muscle, so I needed to regain the ability to bend my leg again). I went under my sisters care for my therapy because the longer you wait to recover, the harder it gets, and worse the results. I am lucky that my sister is a chiropractor, physical therapist, masseuse, and a homeopath. Instead of getting the traditional therapy twice a week with minimal results, I was able to do therapy up to 3 times a day seven days a week. She also massaged the leg to break the fibrosis produced by the radiation, and she worked on reducing the hypersensitivity I have from the surgery, and also helped with the problems caused by the lack of use of the leg. She also used rose-hip seed oil to treat my skin that was damaged from the radiation therapy. After this treatment, my doctor was so impressed that he told me to keep don't it because you can hardly notice my limp. He was surprised with my recovery, but I told him that I am very stubborn, and that the only thing I have to do, since I am not allowed to work yet, was to do my therapy, and that I would break any of his records of recovery! I have to do my check ups every three months, as all of you know.
15 months later I am still cancer free, my only problem is pain in my lower leg that could be because since so much tissue and muscle was removed that the nerves in that area are being compressed. Also it could be fibrosis of the nerve in that area, or new nerves growing into the area that are causing this. Just to be more certain, an x-ray and bone scan are going to be done to make sure that there is not involvement of the bone or cancer recurrence.
I want to encourage everybody to work hard to recover from surgery and treatment. Since I can no longer run, I found golf to take the place of soccer. I have not been able to go watch my friends play soccer yet, because I know I will feel very sad about not being able to play anymore. I did not have the chance to play my "last game" because it was all so sudden.
I have to thank my wife, who took over any responsibility that was necessary while I was in the hospital, and at home while I was in bed. Also my family, especially my little brother, who dropped everything and came over the US to help my wife while I was in recovery, and during my radiation. Also my father who came with my brother and stayed for 2 weeks (my brother stayed for two and a half months.) The rest of my family stayed in constant communication with my wife. I know they would have loved to come but my family is so large that they would have to charter a plane, hehe!
One of the best things I did was not to lose my sense of humor and not to be a pessimist. I just thought that I would surprise everyone with my good and fast recovery. Please remember not to be rude to anyone because of your disease, they are not responsible for it and they are there to help you, take any help people offer you, and realize that even though you know that you get be better, you need to reassure those around you that the best way to help you is by being positive. As I tell my wife and my family in Europe, don't worry because if I survive they would have worried for no reason, and if I do not make it they will have the time to cry for me later, and that there is no need to do it twice!
I guess it is not the best way to find out, but "thanks" to my cancer, I found out who my friends really are, and how important you are to other people, and how important other people are important to you.
Well this has been a long story, but I hope worthy. Please excuse any mispellings since English is my second language. If any one wants to write to me please mail me at:
...and remember life and to enjoy today everything, and everyone like there is no tomorrow. Don't waste your time in insignificant and minute things that are irrelevant. Be forgiving, and remember neither you or your friends are responsible for your cancer, so they should be not the target of your frustrations.
This CancerGuide Page By Augusto Perez. © Augusto Perez
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2001