Mike was initially diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma 3 years ago. He went to his doctor, for what seemed to be a muscle strain or pulled muscle. Unknowingly, him and his wife went to Florida for a vacation that ended early when he lost the ability to walk due to excruciating pain. His wife, a nurse, had a gut feeling that this “muscle strain” was more. After just a day in Florida, they flew back home to New York to see his doctor. Mike was diagnosed with a sarcoma.
He was in denial; he didn’t want to hear the word “malignant” and wanted to think he had a “benign” tumor. Unfortunately, it was not benign. It wasn’t easy to come to terms with a diagnosis of cancer. Mike had panic attacks, as he lived in uncertainty, not knowing if the tumor spread to other parts of his body or if he would live another day. Mike was in tremendous amount of physical pain even on multiple pain medications to the point where it was hard for him to move or walk, so he would sleep on the couch or the recliner.
With a newly diagnosed cancer, several rounds of radiation, not able to walk or do the activities he used to enjoy, Mike had time to ponder. The cancer changed his outlook on life. He says “life is precious” and is not frugal anymore—him and his wife bought a condo and camper and are looking forward to buying another condo in Florida soon. Three years out from his diagnosis, the cancer still affects his life. He wears compression stockings throughout the day to reduce swelling around his legs, and has scars from the surgery, which remind him of his experience. Reflecting back, he says “I’m not as tough as I thought I was going to be.“ However, he has come a long way both emotionally and physically—he does not worry if the cancer will come back and is not in denial any longer. He trusts his oncologists and understands that the cancer can be unpredictable. He is enjoying “slowing down,” traveling and spending time with his wife and pets.
Interview by Zohal Ghulum-Jelani
Join us at the 6th Annual Sarcoma Strong 5k to support Mike and his fellow sarcoma warriors. Registration is open at: