Sharing your story is incredibly brave and also offers support, information and strength to others battling sarcoma and other types of cancer. If you or someone you know would like to share your story of sarcoma or rare cancer with EDDF, please click this link.
Today we talk to Denise Prager a colon cancer-survivor from NY who is now battling sarcoma. Thank you Denise for telling so many about your experience.
Eric D. Davis Sarcoma Foundation (EDDF): Tell us a bit about yourself.
Denise Prager (DP): My name is Denise Prager I am 26, years old born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I work part-time as an administrative assistant for an Autism Respite Program. I enjoy writing stories, poetry and novels. I have had a poem published recently about my experience with colon cancer. I enjoy playing softball, I am a sports fanatic my favorite sports are baseball, football and hockey. I’m a Diehard NY Yankees fan for baseball and a New Jersey Devils fan for hockey. I am an animal lover; I love 80’s rock music and I love to dance.
EDDF: What type of sarcoma did you have?
DP: I have a sarcoma tumor on my spine connecting to my ribs; it was an estimated 30 pounds. It is so big that it surfaced close to 5 inches off my back.
EDDF: How did you first detect you had sarcoma? How old were you?
DP: I was 24 years old when I first discovered something was wrong. I had a bump on my back that was small but a bit painful. I thought it was from work, that I may have pulled a muscle. When I noticed the next week it was still there I knew something was wrong. I called Sloan Kettering Cancer hospital that I have been a patient at since I was 14 to schedule an appointment. When I did I was scheduled an MRI. The results showed a tumor, a biopsy was performed and a diagnosis of sarcoma was made.
EDDF: Tell us about your experience with sarcoma and sarcoma treatments.
DP: It has been a very rough road, but I am a determined woman. I had colon cancer when I was a young teen, and I beat it. I have been on ten chemotherapy treatments in the last three years; so far nothing has worked. Due to the placement of this tumor I am inoperable. I am hoping that this tumor is shrinking but I will continue to hope and pray until it does.
EDDF: What advice do you have for someone who is newly diagnosed?
DP: Just stay positive. It is a horrible disease, and it can be mentally and emotionally draining but hang in there. In the end it will all be worth it. “You may have cancer, but cancer does not have you” and do not let it become stronger than you. “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”
EDDF: If someone has a friend or family member with sarcoma what are some ways they can support that person?
DP: Attend doctor appointments, make them smile. Tell the person things will get better and just take their mind off of it as much as possible. It may not be easy but being there for the person means more than anything to them.
EDDF: What quote has helped you through this journey?
DP: “It’s not about bravery, it’s about sheer determination to win”
EDDF: Anything you would like to add?
DP: Please don’t ever give up. Stay strong-willed and determined. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. As dark as it may be now, the light will shine. Things happen for a reason; we may not like them, but we have to accept them as a part of life. Support is a big help, keep a journal of your thoughts or join a support group. Cancer may be strong, but you are stronger.