Jessica's Story

Jessica, Synovial Sarcoma Survivor

Jessica was 46 when she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma at the foot. Her treatment included amputation and chemotherapy.

I was treated for Plantis Fascitis by a podiatrist for 18 months. One day I went in to see my podiatrist on crutches, as the pain was pretty horrendous, and I said to him, "You need to chop this foot off," with a half-serious smile. He sent me for an MRI, and the very next day I was called to his practice. He told me he wanted to send me to an orthopedic oncologist in Gainesville. As soon as I heard the word "oncologist," my stomach went in knots and my mind started to race. The first thing that came to my mind was my two kids, but it was all surreal in many ways. I didn't feel ill, and I couldn't possibly have cancer, so I was convinced they would find that it was nothing serious. How very wrong were my thoughts back then. They did a biopsy on my foot, and when I came out of the anesthesia I was told I had cancer.


The tumor in my foot was 12cm x 5cm, which was a fair rotten beast in my size 8 foot. My wonderful doctor sat my husband and me down and told us the seriousness of it. He told me the cancer was synovial sarcoma, an extremely rare form of cancer. He told me me due to the size of the tumor and because it was entwined with all the sinews and arteries in there that removing the tumor may render my foot useless. I remember listening with a heavy heart and a deep fear. He said he wanted me to consider a below knee amputation and I would probably walk again. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, that I might not walk again. I would also have a course of chemotherapy just in case there were any stray monster cells lurking within me. After I left his office, I cried and cried and cried. I cried for my kids, Laura and Sean; I cried for my husband Mark; I cried for my beautiful Mum and I cried for the leg I was going to lose that had been with me all of my life. After I did all that crying, I decided I was going to do this. I was going to beat this monster and I was going to walk again.

Recovery and Life Now

I was in hospital 5 days for the amputation. I was terrified to look at my leg, but I got used to it. I was up the next day on one of those Zimmer frames, trawling the corridors of Shands with a determination like no other and with no more pain in my foot. I endured three courses of chemo; it was like acid flowing through my veins and it took me to depressing slumps of nothingness. I had my family with me, and they pulled me out of the slumps. During all of this, my family and I still had our sense of humor. In fact, we had never laughed so hard about the most silly things. The chemo was soon over and I could focus on walking again.

Jessica and her familyI had a prosthetic leg fitted so that I could learn to walk. In no time I was walking without a cane, without a cane and WITH hair. It was a whole new me. Life has never been the same since I lost my leg; we all take having two legs for granted. I do things a lot slower, but there is nothing I can't do with my new leg. When I was just finishing my third course of chemo, I went scuba diving. I swim in circles, but who cares (haha!). Just before I go for my six monthly CT scans I regress into darkness for fear of metastasis, but I am sure that is normal. My family gives me strength, and I have even acquired myself a beautiful little grandson, Oliver. Synovial Sarcoma changed my life completely and I have learned to never take anything for granted. I look at the sky more, I listen to the birds sing and feel the grass between my toes on my good foot. Life is grand and so is being alive!

Thoughts and Hints for New Patients

I wish I had an MRI of my foot earlier - then maybe they could have saved it. My advice to anyone out there is to use your instincts, research doctors and choose the options best for you. Never give up, there is too much living to do.

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Jennicel Bolaños 08/05/2014 09:39 pm
Hi Jessica: your story is really moving. I congratulate you for your bravery! You are a fighter and a winner. Thank you because you are an inspiration to others, specially those recently diagnosed with synovial sarcoma like me.
I'm a 44 year old woman with 3 kids and a husband. I went to an orthopedic because I had a painful ball in my knr. He took it out and the pathologist results confirmed that it is ss. Now I'm afraid that I could have it on my foot since I have inflammation on and off... I will talk to my oncologist on my next visit,to see what he says.
Thank you again, and keep taking good care of yourself. God bless.
Kim 03/04/2014 01:07 am
Jessica, I am 59 and was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in Oct of 2013. I went to 4 doctors trying to find out what a bulge was on the inside of my foot. I probably had bulge for nearly 2 years and it didn't bother me. I went to have it checked out because I was about to lose my medical coverage. The fourth doctor, a plastic surgeon, had experience with sarcoma and was able to do a wide resection. I chose not to do any radiation or chemo at this time. I am doing PET scans every 3 months and have prepared myself in case it returns. Your story gives me courage, inspiration and hope.
Marjorie Sutton 17/03/2014 04:15 pm
I too had a bump on top of my foot..had an MRI in 10/ showed nothing. My husband has health issues and I didn't want to be laid up with surgery so put it off til this year. Dr & I were shocked when it came back as leiomyosarcoma. Am in 4th week of radiation now..ft is pretty ouchy to walk on. No mets to lungs yet. But I wonder bout other places. I don't think Synovial is the same as mine..but I was lookin for sarcomas of the foot on internet & came across your story. You hang in there girl.
Vi Carvall 11/02/2014 02:32 am
Hi Jessica,it was good to read your story you really are an inspiration.
My good friends daughter who is 22 has just been diagnosed and is undergoing radiotherapy before the operation.We are all so shocked as we had never heard of this particular type of cancer. Your story is very moving and we wish you and your family all the very best for the future x
Kathy Wilson 23/10/2013 02:41 pm

hi jessica just read your story im 53 and had syanoval sarcoma in my right foot had a below the knee amputaion 18 months ago was walking on a prostetic after 6 weeks and back at work after six months, your so right in what you say it does change your life and there are good and bad days. I always said why me but you have to get on with living and be proud of your acheivments with your prostetic and I hope all the tests keep coming back good = good luck with your new life

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