Profiles of Sarcoma: Provide the Assist Recipient Cassandra

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The EDDF Provide the Assist Fund offers financial assistance for sarcoma patients in active treatment. Provide the Assist grants may also be awarded to adults in active treatment for other rare cancers. Today we hear from a previous recipient of a Provide the Assist grant and the difference it made on her life.

Cassandra’s experience with sarcoma … Hello! My name is Cassandra! I am 28 years old (29 in a few weeks!) I have two children, 4 and 1. I’m originally from Boston, MA, but moved to Alabama in 2007. [The one-year-old] was only 5 months old when I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in my right knee/femur on Sept. 11, 2012.

I had pain in my knee since [the four-year-old] was born in 2008. I had x-rays that turned up nothing. Then while waiting the birth of my best friends baby on September 12, 2011 my knee started to ache differently than before. Three days later I couldn’t walk. Since I was 8 weeks into my pregnancy my OBGYN didn’t approve any scans, I was in severe pain but put the baby first. Through out my pregnancy I had weeks that were normal and weeks I couldn’t move. I joked to my doctors I couldn’t wait for the epidural. Well, baby came in April and my knee was fine. In July I couldn’t walk again and had my x-ray and MRI. My orthopedic doctor thought I tore something but instead he told me it was a tumor. Thankfully, he did his residency with a renowned orthopedic oncologist in Memphis TN that he referred me to and through another MRI, bone scan, and biopsy I was diagnosed a year (minus one day) to the day It started to really ache. I had only one localized tumor. I met with my medical oncologist and started the aggressive high dose chemotherapy on September 25th 2012. I received Cisplatin once every 3 weeks for 4 hours and Adriamycin for 4 days non-stop. I had 4 rounds. Then January 7, 2013 I had my limb salvage surgery. I spent a month in a rehabilitation facility then back home. My tumor necrosis (death) astonished my doctor. … The pathologist said absolutely the necrosis was 90%, but more towards 98% but since the cells that were still alive were random (not in clusters) he put 90% on paper. I was lucky and didn’t have to get the methotrexate most patients have to get, very rough. I continue with Adriamycin continuously for 4 days and Ifosfamide for about an hour or so a day. I had some major set backs in treatment with clots in my “infected” leg that spread to my lungs and a clot on my heart caused by my port. I had my port removed and started my therapy with a PICC line. I’m on heavy blood thinners and since the clots started in November 2012 my levels have either been too low or too high! I’m happy to say that technically I’ve been cancer free since surgery, the sarcoma has never spread anywhere.

What Provide the Assist means to Cassandra… I believe “Provide the Assist” is a basketball term. Teammates help one teammate to make a basket. This organization does just that, it’s a perfect analogy. You assist patients on their journey and with your help they can make a slam dunk against cancer!

What does Cassandra want to tell donors who have contributed to the Provide the Assist Fund? I want to say thank you, beyond thank you! This has helped me more than you know. We have to travel 3 hours to Memphis for all my doctor’s visits and treatments. I had to quit my job because the chemo and surgery keep me down. Gas alone was becoming harder and harder to come by. I hope to pay it forward as soon as I am able!

Please visit the Provide the Assist Fund page for details on the grants.

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