Sarcogal49 (pseudonym) is a Radical Remission survivor of stage 3 sarcoma. Diagnosed at the age of 49, she started with conventional treatment (surgery) and then switched to only alternative methods to overcome incredible odds. 4 years later, she has no evidence of disease. Here is her story in her own words:

“What started with tripping over a curb in October 2010 and pain from what was thought to be a groin and pelvis muscle strain became 7 doctors and umpteen tests all normal. Two years later, a “cystic mass” was seen as an incidental finding on an MRI in January 2011 of my left hip joint and pelvis that was looking for a small fracture to explain the pain and weakness and tingling and numbness that was growing increasingly worse in my left leg. On a pelvic MRI the radiologist failed to see it, and i was told by the gynecologist that ordered the MRI I should see a psychiatrist for “somatization disorder”. Instead I went to a general surgeon that I had seen the year before to rule out a hernia as the source of my pain.

Thankfully he agreed to look at the hip MRI, saw the mass, and immediately ordered a CT scan and the lime sized tumor lit up like a Christmas tree. This was April 2012. Multiple consultations later I was told this was likely a benign nerve sheath tumor, in a very unusual, bad location growing on or near a major nerve, artery, sandwiched between two thick muscles (explaining why it got missed on multiple x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI) and abutting the colon. It would need to come out as the pressure on the nerve would eventually cause me to lose feeling and movement of my left leg. So the doctors agreed to let me have one last summer of biking and running and then it would come out on 8/3/2012.

The 31/2 hour surgery that cut up the tumor in pieces was deemed a complete success for saving the nerve…but later found to be a total disaster when the pathology report came back with the diagnosis of an aggressive, extremely rare cancer, a form of sarcoma that there are only a few dozen cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Three months after I was diagnosed I was put in touch with a Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner by a physician friend who had learned of him through a patient of his that was 12 years in stable status with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer, a type of cancer with a less than 15% 5 year survival rate. I started on his herbs, and then my brother met and married a Chinese woman via match.com (out of 2500 responses she picked him!) who happened to come from a province that grows the best quality medicinal mushrooms and her family sent my brother and new sister in law back to the U.S. after their honeymoon trip to China with several years supply of dried medicinal mushrooms (Reishi) for me.

Since then I have educated myself on “radical remission” and adopted all of the 9 characteristics of radical remission warriors (revised my diet, scaled back my business to semi-retirement mode, bought a condo in Florida where I now spend the winter, etc.). Connecting with other sarcoma cancer warriors has been the greatest support and inspiration in this journey, and I am giving back on a daily basis by working towards becoming a ‘cancer coach/remission mentor’ to others.

[Regarding what might cause cancer], I definitely think there is a mind-body connection. I have always been a “Type A” go-getter personality, burning the midnight oil every day and as a health care professional, wife, and mother always put my self-care needs dead last. I was harboring pain and resentment over my life’s circumstances. The 6 years preceding my diagnosis were filled with stress of 2 of our 3 teen aged children with social and mental health issues, running a demanding 24/7 health care consulting business, and coping with a husband that had suffered age related job harassment that forced him into early retirement and me into the position of primary breadwinner and dealing with the house and kids, and all this during the recession affecting my mostly private pay business and my husband’s state pension that was heavily invested in the mortgage industry.”

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