Jeanna's Story

Jeanna, Chondrosarcoma Survivor

Jeanna was 25 when she was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma at the distal femur. She had limb sparing surgery, recovered and went on to start a new life.

I was a busy single mom, having just graduated from beauty school, and working on building my life after a divorce. I felt like I was on top of the world and finally making a place for myself. I had just started dating again and didn't see it coming. On a Saturday evening I went to pick my boys up from their dad's, and I had just done makeup for three weddings. My three-year-old was asleep, and as I carried him down the stairs my leg snapped. I fell catching my son, so he didn't get hurt. It took a second to realize what had happened and as I started to scream I knew I had broken my leg. I mean WTH?! I have never broken a bone in my life! My boyfriend drove me to the ER and there they took an x-ray. According to the "doctor," the x-ray showed no break and I was diagnosed with a sprained knee and was instructed to go home, ice, and put up my leg. I argued straight up with the doctor and again explained the sound that my leg made and what I felt. He accused me of wanting pain meds and sent me home with nothing. So for the weekend I waited, and finally when Monday came around I went to an orthopedic specialist, because I did NOT for a second trust the ER doctor.

With the very same x-ray that was taken on Saturday, the specialist said that there was a cyst that needed to be addressed, but that he needed me to go somewhere else. I was then referred to an orthopedic oncologist. It took a few weeks to get in, all the while I hopped around on crutches, but finally after all that and a day of imaging we had our result. Chondrosarcoma had started to erode the nerve and ligament. I was told in front of my five-year-old that this cancer is rare and not heard of for a reason. And I just broke down...LAUGHING. You weren't expecting that were you? Yes, laughing. I don't know why I responded that way. Maybe it was to protect my son. But then again you never know how you're going to respond to getting news like that.

Jeanna after SurgeryTreatment

After diagnosis, I was told that I would have surgery to amputate above the knee, most likely due to the placement of the tumor on my nerve. But I asked for clarification from other doctors that it was necessary, and there was a meeting held to discuss what exactly "needed" to happen. The day of my surgery was very scary, because they don't know what they are going to find even with all of the imaging technology. But either way I went in totally relaxed, knowing I had no control at this point and that I was in God's perfect hands. I fell asleep before I even went into the operating room. That's peace that only Jesus can give you, let me tell you now.

So they removed the tumor, reconstructed the ligament, and stabilized the nerve. I got to keep my leg and my fabulous scar! Guys dig scars. And now the process of healing....

Recovery

While I was in the hospital I went through a LOT of emotion. I thought: "Is this journey over? Will it come back? Why did I get it? What IS THIS??" I had so many questions. The only thing that got me to sleep, besides the morphine drips and cocktails of meds to chill me out, was a book from Max Lucado called "He Still Moves Stones." These stories really gave me a new view to focus on other than the toxic thoughts that I was feeling about the cancer.

Physically, going home was difficult. But mentally, phew, that was a doozy. I felt like breaking my other leg so I could go back to the hospital. I had very little help from family, insurance that was getting cut off because I was no longer married, no job, no money, and two precious little boys to care for. My boyfriend at the time took the role of nurse, helped me to my bedside toilet and did everything for me. He was a blessing at that time. But I needed to figure out how to get on my own again. Living with a boyfriend was not the answer.

I started going through rehab, and I thought my leg was going to explode every single day. It had shriveled down to a toothpick and walking seemed like a far stretch at that point. BUT, I kept going, and kept praying, and kept crying, and healing came. I was eventually able to walk again without a cane. It took me all of six months of seriously pushing it to get there, but I got there and YOU can get there too.

Life Now

Jeanna's FamilyI don't deal much with pain now, maybe I got used to it. I have rebuilt the muscle in my leg to match the other. But, most importantly, I am now using my experience for a better life. I got a second chance, and I love softer, care harder, live better, and worship God longer. And God has repaid my faith by blessing me with an amazing husband and now a precious new daughter. It's been two years, and I have gone on to re-establish my career and my presence in my boys' lives being room mom, and going on field trips, and simply just talking with them every night. I now know that you only have a few years to build love with your children, and I cherish them every day. I have gone on missions to other countries and states, and I just don't take anything for granted anymore. Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy.

Thoughts and Hints for New Patients

Please look up, because that is where you WILL find your strength. Ask someone to pray for you. It's this fallen worlds fault you got sick, but God can help you through it. Continue to socialize! It's good for your soul to be around awesome friends.

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