Life After Ewing Sarcoma
This article originally appears on LiveStrong.
My name is Brandi L. Benson, and I am a ten year Ewing Sarcoma Cancer Survivor.
First, a lot of people do not know about this cancer as it is rare and very aggressive, but needs more education and more enlightenment on this type like many others that are more common.
I am thrilled that I get to break the ice a bit and educate the readers here.
Growing up, I spent most of my younger years in Northern California (Novato) and my teenage years in Kailua, Hawaii. Although not without its challenges, life was pretty laid back, and I was equipped to handle whatever obstacles came along.
After all, I was pretty tough. In my youth, I participated in lots of sports, mainly basketball and soccer. In soccer, I was known as the “girl who did the flip-throws.” I was very athletic and fast and loved to run.
I played on varsity teams in middle school; I landed a position on an AAU and CYO team and many other fun leagues. And in 2008, as proof of my very womanish machismo, I joined the US Army.
I thought it was tough being sent to a battle zone fresh out of basic training. But just six months into my military career, I was fighting a different kind of battle — one that made me put my M16 down and pick up the harsh treatments of 17 cycles of chemo.
Before this type of cancer, I never knew what this cancer was, let alone pronouncing the name correctly. In 2009, while deployed to Iraq, away from my family and friends, a doctor sat me down and told me I had a Sarcoma.
That Can’t Be RIGHT!
I honestly did not know what to think or what to say. Denial sat in real fast, and I just knew they had the wrong person.
That’s when my entire life became out of control, and I felt as if I was no longer the driver, but the scared and petrified passenger on a wild roller coaster ride. Weeks later, I would learn that this cancer was a soft tissue cancer found near the long bones of the body (legs, arms, pelvic bone); it is considered a “childhood cancer,” and the majority of patients that have this are young Caucasian boys.
A Lesson Is Always Learned
Having cancer was a terrible, yet eye-opening experience that I will never forget or take lightly. I learned that you never know how strong you are until you’re right in the middle of a battle.
After numerous surgeries, endless hours of physical therapy to learn how to walk again after my entire adductor muscle was removed, and over 90 rounds of chemotherapy in 8 months, I survived this hell of a ride. I. DID. IT!
It is an honor to call myself a cancer survivor, but after the treatments and the surgeries, than what? Then, life became a constant worry about it returning or manifesting into another ugly, cancerous face.
Just How Strong Are you?
In the aftermath, my strength was severely tested, not just physically, but also mentally. I had a disfigured leg and felt ugly. I was ashamed of what I had to go through and of the 22-inch scar that marched up my leg and burned due to nerve damage. And as though that was not enough, I was also dealing with a failing marriage.
Apparently, he had fallen out of love with me while I was sick and fighting for my life. In the wake of my diagnosis, I had to learn myself all over again.
This was the most challenging part for me. Even now, I am still learning how to love and accept this new me. I can no longer sprint on a soccer field, nor do I have the agility of a basketball player, but I have my mind and a new level of gratitude for life.
Made Me Stronger & More Motivated
I am forever changed by this disease, but I do not allow my past diagnosis with Ewing Sarcoma to hinder me or scare me away from my dreams. If anything, it made me dream bigger.
I am a fighter and a winner who never gives up on herself.
The advice I would give recent cancer survivors, or those just beginning their cancer journey, is that our scars are beautiful.
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