July was Sarcoma Awareness Month, and at The SAMFund we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge our many friends and alumni who are sarcoma survivors, including our very own Executive Director, Sam. Most common in children and young adults, 40% of bone sarcomas and 20% of soft tissue sarcomas are diagnosed before age 35. More than 5% of our SAMFund alum are sarcoma survivors.
We asked a few of our alumni to discuss their experiences as young adult sarcoma survivors, and we are so proud to share their stories:
“I was diagnosed with angiosarcoma when I was 21 in October of 2001, just after 9-11; not my favorite year. The biggest challenge was that I was just starting to get my life together and rolling – like finally becoming an independent 20-something year old rather than a teenager. I was looking forward to a lot of things and had to put a lot on hold. I had to drop out of college to go home and undergo treatment which added a few years to my college journey. Dating was, and still is, definitely different being a cancer survivor and thriver. I live with chronic myelogenous leukemia now, so it’s always hard trying to decide when and how to tell a new person in your life, to explain some of the side effects-physical and otherwise. With all of that said, I don’t regret anything, and my cancer experiences have truly enriched my life in many other ways.
“I am an osteosarcoma survivor and 2007 SAMFund grant recipient. At the time when I received the grant I had been struggling with multiple challenges related to my survivorship. I had dental issues that were partially due to side effects of cancer treatment, and as I was struggling to support myself financially, I was unable to pay for a dentist. Additionally, the problems I had greatly effected my self-esteem. The SAMFund grant lifted a tremendous financial and emotional burden that enabled me to take the initiative I needed to move forward with my life. Prior to receiving the grant I felt emotionally stuck and had great difficulty working toward my goals.
After receiving the grant I returned to undergraduate school full-time, completed my degree, and pursued international travel. The SAMFund lifted a tremendous weight that allowed me to move finally move forward with my life. It not only helped me with personal challenges but it also helped me discover a passion for young adult survivorship issues and made me want to become an advocate.” – Leeann, 2007 Grant Recipient and Sambassador
“I was diagnosed in July of 2011 and then had a re-occurrence in Feb. 2012. The biggest challenge that I faced, and still face, to this day is feeling ‘normal’ in other peoples eyes. It’s still hard to get those looks sometimes or wonder how a significant other might fit into my life even though I recovered to 95% of my old self. A slight speech difference is all it takes to make an unfavorable impression to most people.
The SAMFund grant help ease a lot of financial pressure for me. Its very hard to deal with life after surviving cancer because they are life situations that you have to figure out ‘in the moment.’ There’s no direction book on how you’re going to react to certain situations, once you’ve gone through cancer and The SAMFund grant made life a little less stressful.” – Jody, 2013 Grant Recipient