Jenna was running with the soccer ball, trying to set up her teammates to score a goal. She trips over the ball and falls to the ground, feeling a rush of pain surge to her right collarbone. She thinks she broke it, so she decides to seek medical attention. Jenna receives an X-ray and MRI, which indicate that her right collarbone is not broken. She wears a sling for two weeks, resuming her regular activities as a 17-year-old high school student-athlete.
However, in December 2020, Jenna fell on her right collarbone again during the peak of her soccer season. This time, she experienced more pain and went to the hospital. She received an MRI and CT scan, which revealed a tumor growing in her right collarbone.
Jenna was referred to Dr. DiCaprio, an orthopedic oncologist at Albany Medical Center. A biopsy of her tumor was obtained to identify what type of tumor was growing in Jenna’s right collarbone. After investigation, Jenna was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone tumor that affects 3 children per 1,000,000.
Before her diagnosis, Jenna did not have any previous health concerns. She was a healthy 17-year-old girl. She thought her upper extremity pain was due to a soccer injury. Never in a million years would she have thought she had cancer. Jenna was anxious about what her future would hold. Would she ever be able to play soccer again? Would she be able to go to prom? Would she be able to graduate high school? After more imaging revealed the sarcoma had not metastasized, Jenna and her medical team agreed that chemotherapy followed by surgical resection of the tumor was the best option. Jenna immediately underwent chemotherapy, finally received surgery on June 15, 2021, and has returned to her normal activities.
During this medical journey, Jenna found support through her friends and family. “I couldn’t do this without them.” Jenna took this nightmare and turned it into a positive learning experience. “I learned that I can handle more than I thought I could.” Jenna wants to inspire others that are going through hardships through her story. When asked if she has any advice, she states, “Anything can happen in life. My diagnosis has taught me to keep moving forward and stay positive. Do not wait for the hard times to be over, be happy. Don’t be discouraged. Look on the bright side of things, for the hard times will be over eventually.”
Jenna will be restarting chemotherapy soon and continues to remain optimistic about her diagnosis.
Interview and story composed by Harjot Uppal, 2nd year medical student at Albany Medical College