Michael R. on June 19, 2015
I was Diagnosed with:
Type and Description of Treatments:
Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma is a malignant type of chondrosarcoma, or cancer of cartilage. Approximately two thirds of cases of mesenchymal chondrosarcoma occur in bone while the rest occur in places outside of the bone—i.e., in extra-skeletal locations. Unlike other types of malignant chondrosarcoma, which have a tendency to grow more slowly and rarely develop metastases, mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is a fast growing tumor that spreads more often. At the same time, it can remain dormant for long periods of time. It tends to affect children and young adults, but is a rare tumor, accounting for less than 1% of all sarcomas (Weis and Huvos). Tumor located in the inner thigh just above the knee Eight rounds of aggressive chemo therapy. Each round consisted of 5 continuous days of 7-8 hour sessions. Chemo used - Adriamycin / Doxorubicin / Vincristine 10 hour Tumor Removal Surgery followed by 3 additional operations to due to major infection in the leg 35 continuous days of intense radiation. Treated at the University of Michigan Health Systems
How do you feel today?
Humbled, I have been given a second change at life. It is a humbling experience, and I am truly grateful for the University of Michigan Health Systems and my unbelievable support team.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
The idea of normalcy and outlook on life. After cancer the idea of what you think and define as "normal" changes. Cancer not only affects you physically but mentally as well. In my case I perceive situations and problems differently. After my battle I don't sweat the small stuff. I know what "real" problems are. I believe this has helped me be a more well rounded individual.
The way people look and perceive you changes. I don't think that I will or can be just Michael again. I forever will be linked with Cancer, and I have come to terms with it. As much as id like to forget the a lot of the difficult times throughout the fight I have learned to reflect and harness the good that came out of the battle; the people / relationships / etc. Adversity and life experiences change people and you must embrace the change.
What is going well for you right now?
I have the most incredible wife.
I have the best family and support system.
I have a great job and work for an amazing organization.
What is not going well for you right now?
I deal with lingering body issues. I had 11 surgeries in 7 months. Between the surgeries and side affects from chemo, I continue to battle aches and pains.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
The most challenging thing about having cancers is how it affects your loved ones. Your life gets put on hold and unfortunately so do the lives of those closest to you. No one person can beat cancer, it is a team effort. You, your support team, and doctors must come together and keep your eyes on the prize and that is to win. It was very frustrating know that something that you have no control over affects so many people in so many ways
I didn't enjoy having to micro-manage everything. What you eat, how much you sleep, germ monitoring, cleaning the bathroom after every use, and who you interact with are all things that must be taken seriously. Cancer is a full time job.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
Family / Friends / Co Workers / Boss
I'm a firm believer that if you surround yourself with the right people good things will happen. Don't be afraid to seek help in a time of need.
I interact with a Life Coach / Therapist and have have found it to very beneficial post cancer as you adapt back to normal everyday life.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I currently work full time. I generally work 8:30am - 5:30pm
What has helped you continue to work the most?
Everyone has different things that motivate them. Find something that you are passionate about. I love what I do.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
You need to find a balance. You must understand that you have a new full time job and its called cancer. When allowed, I tried to work as much as possible, it helped take my mind of things. When going through treatment you have a suppressed immune system and must monitor and be aware of your surroundings at all times. The germs from a handshake, door handle, or keyboard could impact you. Be attentive of your surroundings.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
I have aches and pains, get tired, and must be mindful of blood clots. Looking at the bigger picture those are all things I can live with knowing I am cancer free!
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Don't give up, don't ever give up.
Consider yourself a survivor from day one.
Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.