Sarcoma Survivor Stories - Meet Lauren Harback
When were you originally diagnosed and what sub-type of sarcoma were you given?
I was just told that I had sarcoma, and that it was possibly neurofibromatosis, but that I would have to have more testing to determine that. I was told that I would have to undergo genetic testing to see if I had neurofibromatosis. I have had labs drawn and am currently awaiting the results of this.
What was your initial reaction?
I was diagnosed with cancer on my 31st birthday. At first, I was shocked, but then I started to think about my family. My husband and I have only been married a short time and I knew I wanted to celebrate many more anniversaries with him. We also have a 5-year-old daughter who has so many things to experience that I want to be a part of. I flipped into nurse mode and started explaining to my daughter what might happen if mommy had to have chemotherapy. There were, of course, some tears which were accompanied by fears, but we stuck together as a family.
What was your treatment plan?
My treatment plan was to receive 3 different kinds of chemo for 5 weeks and then radiation, however after my port placement during the review of my pre-chemo labs discovered I was pregnant, so I couldn’t do chemotherapy. It was at that time that I was given two choices. The first choice was to end the pregnancy and to continue with the treatment plan as discussed, or I could keep the baby and go straight to surgery. My oncologist told me that even with chemo chances are that I would still have to have chemo due to the size and the location of my tumor. My tumor was located in my right calf and was 14.5 cm long and about 6 cm wide.
What do you feel is the most important thing when going through cancer treatments?
I did not have to go through chemo, but I know that this journey would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of my husband, daughter, family and friends. They have stuck by my side during this process and have encouraged me when I needed it most. Most importantly they let me know I was loved and that I would overcome this.
Did you have a recurrence and how long were you in remission before this occurred?
Thankfully I have not had a recurrence. My follow up scans have been negative, and when my leg was amputated my margins were clear.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer someone going through a similar situation to what you went through?
Stay positive! As hard as it might be you have to. There will be times that you cry, but you have to dry your tears, wipe yourself off and keep going. Being positive will be more effective than any therapy or medication.
What is one positive thing that has come out of your experience?
That I can inspire people. I have never thought of myself as being inspirational, or anything like that, but during this journey, so many people have told me that I have encouraged them and that my positive attitude amazed them. It has brought my family closer together and has allowed all of us to see how strong we really are. My husband and daughter have amazed me during all of this as well.