Donna noticed a lump growing on her knee for a few months. She finally decided to go see an orthopedic surgeon to have it checked. The surgeon though it was bursitis, so he injected the lump with cortisone. This treatment would’ve helped bursitis, but her lump persisted. After a few more months, she went to another orthopedic surgeon who referred her to an orthopedic oncologist, Dr. DiCaprio. After retrieving a biopsy of the lump, she was told she had sarcoma, not a simple bursitis.
At first, Donna was happy to hear sarcoma, until she learned that sarcomas are cancers. “I was in disbelief. I couldn’t imagine how I Donna and her husband, Bill could’ve gotten something like this. I was totally shocked.”
Donna was active, she went to the gym regularly and traveled with her husband. She didn’t have any other symptoms. After her diagnosis, Donna underwent multiple surgeries with the help of both plastic and orthopedic surgeons to remove the tumor and reconstruct her knee.
Donna cried frequently because of the pain and feelings of helplessness. “I burst out crying because I couldn’t get up and clean the house.” Her husband, Bill, would joke with her and say, “You have two minutes to cry and that’s it.” She had physical therapy for several months and slowly, she gained back her strength and the pain subsided. She has resumed exercising and can bend her knee, something she wasn’t able to do before.
Unfortunately, a couple years after her diagnosis, her husband got a spinal cord injury on a vacation, leaving him unable to walk. Donna helps to take care of her husband, who is slowly gaining back the ability to walk on his own. Donna looks forward to traveling again and for “nothing else to happen.”
Interview by Zohal Ghulam-Jelani