Steve 29,

Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma

"I was at work in May 2006 when a friend and colleague of mine touched my back and found a solid lump between my spine and left shoulder blade. I had an appointment with my GP, a general surgeon and an orthopaedic consultant as well as numerous scans. The doctors were all baffled and came to the conclusion that they were 99% sure the lump was harmless - a calcified blood clot. Thankfully they decided that a biopsy was needed to out rule the 1% chance it was malignant. The biopsy was performed on Fri 6th Oct and I received a call on Mon 9th to come in for an appointment the following day. I had a gut feeling from early on it was cancer and at this point I knew for sure. I was diagnosed with Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma on 10th Oct 2006 - I was 20 yrs old. Treatment began with a 9 hour operation on my spine through my back and chest on 2nd Nov. This included the removal of sections of 4 ribs and half of 4 vertebrae which left my spine crooked. Surgery was followed by 4 months of doxorubicin and ifosfamide chemotherapy and 5 weeks of radiotherapy. I spent most of Christmas, New Year and my 21st birthday in hospital. I had a bad reaction to the chemo, lost 4.5 stone in weight and have since found out it almost killed me as a result of repeated neutropenic sepsis. Luckily I had no bad reaction to the radiotherapy (I even enjoyed it by comparison) and the treatment worked, I have been cancer free nearly 8 years. Unfortunately complications during corrective spinal surgery in 2008 led to a spinal cord injury and permanent wheelchair use. I consider myself lucky to be alive and thankful to the NHS staff and consultants at UCH, R.N.O.H Stanmore, CLIC Sargent and the T.C.T for the amazing care and support I received and still receive today."

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