Speaker: Amy Harper, Sarcoma Patient
Finding peace of mind and learning to trust my doctors’ expertise.
Amy Harper: Hi, my name is Amy Harper and I was diagnosed with sarcoma in the summer of 2016. It was a busy time of life. And I was, you know, a really healthy person. I wasn't on any medications. Never had to go to the doctor. But my knee was hurting and so I had done physical therapy, it just wasn't working and finally went and got some imaging done and that is when they found that there was a tumor. Because of my age and because of some other things, they really didn't think it was any big deal, but I was probably gonna have to have knee surgery anyway. But they referred me to the University of Iowa in order to get a biopsy and a plan for surgery. And so I was pretty naive and just thought, oh, this is gonna be a, you know, a bummer that I have to have knee surgery. But, you know, everything's gonna be ok. So two days later or when they, when they called me a couple of days later, with the results of the biopsy and they said this actually is a big problem and you need to get here in two days in order to start treatment. I was shocked, I just couldn't even wrap my head around it. And I knew that they said there would be chemo and there would be surgery and I still didn't know what that meant. And I remember that I asked the doctor, "Is this cancer?" And he told me what the diagnosis was and then he said, "But I want you to not Google this because if you Google it, you're gonna find a lot of scary things and we need you to be ready when you get here." So I took his advice and to this day, I still have not Googled it. I was very protective. I didn't tell everybody what my diagnosis was, because I didn't even want my loved ones knowing what Google said. And that gave me peace of mind because it helped me to trust in the expertise of the doctors, and more importantly to trust in my God for healing. So, two days later, we came back, started treatment right away. My treatment was inpatient treatment. I did not handle it very well at all. I became so sick. Very, very weak. Tried to sleep but couldn't sleep. Ended up with mouth sores. I mean, it was just, I was a miserable person. But I just kept thinking, you know, what this is, what's gonna kill this tumor and it's all gonna be worth it. So, a few months after doing chemo, we were scheduled, I was scheduled for surgery and in surgery, Dr. Miller removed a section of my femur and then my entire knee in order to make sure that they got everything. And so I had a new femur and knee put in and then it came time to recover from surgery, which I also didn't handle very well. I was the patient that always fainted every time they stood me up to try to get me to start taking steps again. I just - my body was not cooperative really. So there was a long recovery after surgery too. So learning how to bend that leg and use my leg and, you know, started out in a wheelchair, you know, already being very weakened from chemo, it was hard to sort of do the recovery for that leg. Then we found out that the chemo had only killed 5% of the tumor and that what we were hoping and praying for was that it would kill 95%. So that felt like a pretty huge, devastating blow. The only good part about that was that it did shorten the amount of cycles of chemo that I did after surgery because it hadn't been showing to be very effective. So in February of 2017, I was done with treatment and really started to recover, to learn to walk, to begin to eat again, all of those kinds of things. I started having checkups every 90 days in 2019. Unfortunately, there were two spots on my lungs and those had to be removed surgically. One of those was cancer, and I lost a lobe of my lung in the process. So then it was another surgery trying to, learning how to breathe again and trying to increase the stamina of my lungs after that major surgery too. But here we are in 2023. I'm doing great. No more spots and I'm feeling good about the future.