In January 2021, Brianna was cheerleading for her high school cheer team when she began to experience knee pain. Over the next few weeks, the pain worsened to the point where she was limping and could not flex her knee. She scheduled an appointment to see her physician who ordered an Xray. “I knew something was seriously wrong,” Brianna said, “I just didn’t know what it was.”
The Xray showed a tumor located just underneath her knee that had likely been growing for 3-6 months. Brianna “immediately became dizzy and felt like I was in a dream.” She did not remember much of the discussion that would follow. The next week a biopsy confirmed that Brianna had a high-grade osteosarcoma.
Before her diagnosis, Brianna was an avid photographer. She began taking pictures of nature with her iPhone camera and soon progressed to a Nikon digital camera. During the fall season, she enjoys capturing images of her younger brothers and neighbor with the colorful foliage in the background. In her free time Brianna also cooks for her family. Her favorite dishes to make are homemade cheese fondue, homemade mac and cheese, and Alfredo sauce.
Unfortunately, Brianna can no longer enjoy the things she used to. “I lost my independence.” She can no longer walk without assistance or play outside with friends every day. She is hopeful to regain enough function to walk after her surgery in late April and after completing an additional 18 weeks of chemotherapy.
Although Brianna had never heard of the word “sarcoma” before her diagnosis, she was hesitant to research the disease. “I didn’t want to scare myself.” She becomes anxious thinking about her upcoming surgery as the doctor informed her that they would be “removing 6 inches of your femur bone and your knee.”
Currently Brianna receives chemotherapy treatment every week and feels her anxiety worsen as her next treatment approaches. “One of the most difficult things about chemotherapy is the constant nausea I experience two days after each treatment.”
Although Brianna has a long road to recovery ahead, she “tries to stay calm and tackle one challenge at a time.”
Interview and story composed by Zachary Troiani, Albany Medical College, MD candidate, Class of 2024