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Meet Terry52...

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Happy November! We don't hear too much about sarcomas, so we are thankful to Terry52 for sharing her story . Read about her experience with this form of cancer and how she is doing now.

Hello everyone, Lianne has asked me to share my story. Oh my, even with so much taken out I feel like I’ve written a book.!

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Raine

 My journey with cancer started in June 2021. In the middle of COVID. A painless lump developed on top of my thigh. I thought I had pulled too many dandelions out over an attack I had unleashed on my front lawn. I figured Mother nature was just getting back at me. LOL. I left it for several weeks thinking it would resolve on its own. But it wasn’t going down. By the time I had got to see my family Dr. 4 weeks later It still hadn’t gone down. He didn’t seem too concerned. Asked if I had bumped it, or had my “big dog” run into me? Nope. He thought probably it was a fatty tissue lump.  I was sent for x-rays and an ultrasound.
  A week later I received a call from my family Dr. The radiologist recommended an urgent MRI. Why? Apparently, they just wanted a clearer picture. Thanks to Covid, my urgent MRI was 5 weeks later. No one had mentioned the word cancer. So, I remained blissfully ignorant.
It wasn’t long after, I received a notice in my Hospital Portal site. Results were in. The mass showed what appeared to be benign and cancer cells and an urgent recommendation to get me seen at the Sarcoma Clinic in PMH in Toronto. Stunned and alone at that moment, my journey with cancer began. Several days later I saw my family Dr. who I have known for decades. He looked sick. But I think he was relieved that I already knew about the results, and he wasn’t the one breaking the news to me.
As I entered the hallways of PMH, many memories flooded back. You see I wasn’t new to cancer. My mom had lost her battle to a brain tumour some years earlier and I had walked these same halls at PMH with my younger brother who was diagnosed with a brain tumour over a decade earlier.  Everything felt surreal. I felt like I hadn’t left. A little voice in my head said, “you’re back”.  Denial was rampant.
 Even after a biopsy that seemed to go on forever, I was still looking for reassurances from the surgeon that it wasn’t cancer. He looked at me like I was short of a few brain cells! Two weeks later, mid-August 2021. I was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma. It is a rare and aggressive cancer.  Only 1: 1000000 get this type of sarcoma. A Sarcoma is a rare type of malignant tumour that develops in bone and connective tissue such as fat, muscle, blood vessels, nerves and the tissue that surrounds bones and joints. My tumour was growing inside the largest muscle in my thigh and this type of sarcoma likes to metastasize to the lungs.
It was decided my treatment was to be 5 weeks of radiation followed by surgery to remove the entire muscle. Two decades ago, my entire leg would have been amputated. Thanks to research I got to keep my leg!  The tumour was growing and at times very painful in my leg. I felt like I was dragging a tree stump. So very heavy. I named the tumour “Barney”. I have no idea why that name, it just popped into my head one day. If I was going to yell or swear at it, when it was being painful, it had to have a name! “Barney” became well known as weeks went by. At least now hubby didn’t think I was yelling at him. LOL
Every weekday we travelled 3-4 hrs. a day for treatment. It was more exhausting than the treatment, but the technicians were wonderful. I looked forward to seeing them, Covid had kept us so isolated.  My husband drove every day. He never complained. My biggest treat was going to Tim Hortons before we came home. OMG, I so looked forward to a muffin and a cappuccino. I was like a kid. I’m a cheap date! Lol.   My brother and SIL would ask for the times of my treatment. Every day on the appointed time they would light a candle and drink a glass of wine! Send good vibes out to the universe for me. I’m sure the LCBO loved them for the support they were showing me. LOL. One of the happiest times of the day was when I came home to our two beautiful fur babies who were waiting and watching for us.

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I had to wait two months for surgery. Covid was causing all sorts of problems getting O.R. rooms and staff. I was terrified the d*** thing had escaped the muscle. Surgery was on Dec.2 2021. Almost six months after I had discovered it. The O.R. staff were amazing. The anesthetist laughingly gave me what he called my breakfast of “peach schnapps “. That sent my head spinning! Booze at 6AM. 100% proof. Wow! The surgical staff laughed when they found out I had named my tumour “Barney”. Why not “Fred” (from the cartoon the Flintstones) they asked? After all Fred was the miserable one!! It was good for a laugh!  Just before being put to sleep a nurse held my hand and said “You’re going down Barney” I went under with a smile. In an extensive surgery they removed the entire muscle. The margins were clear!!   
Recovery has been long and difficult, painful.  My leg had to learn how to walk again. Relying heavily on my walker it took me almost 4 months to walk unaided. But I had a GOAL. Walking and hiking have always been a favorite hobby of mine. I was determined I would walk again in my beloved forest, walk again along the lakeshore with my beautiful dog and my friend. I didn’t care about the deformity of my leg (and my new slowness at walking), as long as it was functional. It finally happened in May of this year. I was back out walking. Woo-hoo! Spring, new beginnings! Nature is so therapeutic. It soothes and repairs the soul esp. one that is hurting.

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My biggest support is my husband who is my rock. A lot has been asked of him, dressing me, bathing me, and taking on all the chores. He’s always been supportive, even now when I still have the occasional meltdown or days when my mobility isn’t great and I need a hand, he is there. My children were amazing, loving, and supportive. House cleaned; meals prepared.  I am blessed. My closest girlfriend who is a cancer survivor has been there to listen to all my fears, hugs me as I cried and gets it!! Yes, I was ghosted by some family and friends, but there were so many others that were there for us and still are. I am so grateful.
Cancerconnection has connected me to a world of amazing strong warriors.  The stories that are shared to benefit one another are incredible. We are a group of strangers holding each other up and cheering each other on. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world we lived in was like that? The fact that we can say how we are feeling with no judgment is such a relief. Others get it! I have had several members reach out to me during difficult times and I am so grateful for their compassion and support. To the mentors and members Thank you!!
I have been told my recovery can take up to 2 years.  I fight the discomfort almost daily, but I won’t let it get me down. I am a glass half full lady, and I won’t let cancer take that away from me or my family. It’s taken enough. So, my warrior side is coming out! I try to stay healthy, look for the positive, and snub my nose at cancer, not today!!!

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My other hobbies are reading, writing, and genealogy. I have spent hundreds of hours exploring our family trees. Recent find, my g.g. grandmother was tried as a Salem Witch!
I have scans every three months at PMH. Watching my lungs for any signs of mets. I am also in a Clinical trial. If I can pay it forward to thank the ones who have gone before me, it’s the least I can do.
I am now 10 months (almost 11) NED!!!! A big thank you to my surgical team! I had the best. I am so very grateful!

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Theresa  AKA Terry52

Thank you for kicking off November with your incredible story Theresa and for sharing these wonderful photos.


If you are interested in sharing your story and being featured in a future Meet Your Neighbour, please reach out to Lianne at cancerconnection@cancer.ca