The Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada

is Canada’s national organization dedicated to providing patient support and education while working with Canada’s leading research institutions to eradicate the disease.

Sarcoma cancer attacks the connective tissue within the body, causing tumours within muscle, bones, nerves, fat and blood vessels. It occurs in both children and adults.

People around the world know the story of Canadian icon Terry Fox, who ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Fewer know, however, that the disease which claimed Fox’s leg -- and later, after his heroic efforts, his life -- was osteosarcoma, a form of sarcoma cancer of the bones. Even more importantly, since Fox lost his battle with cancer in 1981, much progress has been made in treating and curing this insidious disease.

There is always more work to be done. To learn how you can become involved and support the fight against sarcoma cancer, visit the You Can Help page of our website.

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Sarcoma Survivor, Beth England

Beth England ... In the spring of 2012, while awaiting the birth of her second son, Beth was incapacitated by a growth on her right foot. Unable to receive treatment because of her condition, she persevered until the pain became unbearable. Tests revealed a tumor, and biopsy results confirmed the growth to be Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. ... read more

Sarcoma Survivor, Teresa Bell

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Sarcoma Survivor, David-Kirk McCleary

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Sarcoma Survivor, Beth England:

Beth England

In the spring of 2012, while awaiting the birth of her second son, Beth was incapacitated by a growth on her right foot. Unable to receive treatment because of her condition, she persevered until the pain became unbearable. Tests revealed a tumor, and biopsy results confirmed the growth to be Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

Beth underwent an emergency Caesarian section (little William was delivered safely, and received wonderful care in Windsor Regional’s NICU. Beth was then admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, home to a world renowned Sarcoma clinic. Dr. Peter Ferguson performed surgery to remove Beth’s right leg below the knee. Within days, Beth was up and around– no complaints, looking forward to returning home, being fitted for a prosthetic and getting back to her husband Bill and raising their family.

Another bend in the road — her first follow up chest scan revealed lung metastasis. Beth was referred to the care of Dr. Martin Blackstein, an oncologist specializing in the treatment of sarcoma. Six rounds of Chemotherapy were administered in hospital, with a celebration of good results in January 2013.

We are now faced with another challenge as the most recent scan has shown the lung lesions are changing. A new oral chemotherapy “blocker” is the next line of defense, and can be taken for 1 year. Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Blackstein referred Beth to a Thoracic surgeon who recommended that the new “blocker” be taken for 3 months (this began mid-May) and then following a scan determine its effectiveness before looking at the options for surgery.

We are very fortunate and thankful that God has placed brilliant, gifted and dedicated doctors in our path to care for Beth. I do not believe there are better to be found anywhere in the world, and we support and thank them for their personal care and efforts.

Sarcoma Survivor Teresa Bell:

My name is Teresa Bell and I am a sarcoma cancer survivor. I was born in 1968, grew up and now raise my family in Prince Edward County which is a lovely rural community close to Belleville, Ontario, Canada. My husband and I have 3 children and own a printing company where we enjoy working together every day.

Teresa Bell Family

My cancer story began the fall of 2003. As my youngest child turned one year old, I was frustrated with my body and just couldn’t seem to lose my baby belly. In fact, people were starting to think I was pregnant again! So, with much embarrassment, I went to my doctor, pointed to my stomach and asked, “Is this normal?” Thank goodness my doctor was quick to take the situation seriously; he examined me and sent me for an ultrasound. The test showed a large mass and next I found myself at the Kingston Regional Cancer Clinic being told I had a tumor that needed to be removed. They thought it was ovarian in origin but no further tests were done to diagnose the tumor. Within a month of that first ultrasound, I was undergoing surgery to remove a watermelon-sized tumor. The pathology reported it as myxoid liposarcoma and the oncologist said no follow up radiation or chemotherapy was recommended.

At this point I was extremely uninformed about my disease. I was not offered any further education about Sarcoma, nor did I think it important to do any of my own research. It seemed like I had a close call but it was all taken care of and I went back to my regular life. However, in Jan. 2007 a routine follow up CT scan showed masses in my abdomen. They were small and in Feb. 2007 I found myself back in the operating room for what I thought was a biopsy but instead became a resection of 4 small masses, all of which the pathology reported as myxoid liposarcoma. Again, the oncologist said no follow up radiation or chemotherapy was recommended. This time, however, I decided to learn more on my own about Sarcoma and concluded that my close call meant that I should start to take better care of myself and my life.

In 2007 I went through many changes - lost weight, exercised regularly, ate better, and by summer of 2008, just months before my 40th birthday, I felt I was in the best shape of my life. Cancer, however, does not seem to respect good intentions and my June CT scan showed another mass. The August scan revealed three quickly growing tumors. At this time I sought a second opinion at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. A September scan confirmed the masses were still growing rapidly. On October 31st, a date engraved forever in my mind, I was told the tumor board had reviewed my case and unfortunately my condition was inoperable, and radiation and chemotherapy were not options for cure.

Not wanting to take no for an answer, I continued to seek treatment and in December 2008 found an oncologist in Mexico where I was treated with doxorubicin chemotherapy and radiation. By January 2009, the tumors were reduced to 50% and in April 2009, I underwent surgery back in Kingston, where the remaining tumors were successfully removed by a skilled surgeon. I was now seriously researching Sarcoma, networking with cancer patients, learning and asking.

My research helped me to be better prepared for my recurrence in 2010, and I sought an opinion at the Segal Cancer Center, at the Jewish General Hospital. An August 2010 scan showed a tumor growing as well as nodules scattered on the abdomen wall. I underwent 7 cycles of MAID chemo, administered in-patient over 48 hours. An April 2011 scan showed no evidence of disease and a celebration took place in my heart.

Currently there is a potential that I have a recurrence and the team at Segal is considering stereotactic radiation. I continue to fight the good fight, living joyfully each and every day.

Sarcoma Survivor David-Kirk McCleary:

I am happy to be able to say that I’m a sarcoma cancer survivor with a story to share. Not so long ago, I wasn’t sure that would be the case.

David-Kirk McCleary

I remember waiting patiently for my doctor to return and tell me about the details of my first ever surgery. I was a very fit and healthy twenty seven year old who carefully watched what I ate and exercised nearly every day, with something approaching religious fervour. I didn’t smoke, and I drank socially on a very rare occasion. The doctor entered the examination room in a rush.

“We will operate and take the lump out of your arm. And once your arm heals, we will begin your chemotherapy”, he stated without preamble or greeting. “But chemotherapy is for people with cancer”, I said looking up at his impassive face and the slightly abashed faces of the residents that stood nervously behind him. “Exactly”, he said and then promptly left the room.

A million thoughts ran through my head, so many things left undone and so many dreams left, yet to be realised. I looked down at the golf balled size lump in my arm, now more alien and menacing than anything else I had yet faced in my short life.

The next few days were a whirlwind of activity in preparation for my ensuing journey through the valley of the shadow of death that cancer represented to me at that point. Had it not been for the loving and prayerful support of my family, and dear friends, hell bent on keeping me active and wonderfully distracted as well as informed about community resources and other help, I am sure that the already terrifying cancer prognosis would have been more than I could have easily borne at that point in my life.

I am thrilled to say that years later, I am a survivor living a happy and healthy life that I now have even more appreciation for. Surgery saved my life and my friends and family allowed me to get back to living and enjoying it.

Thanks to the efforts of the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada, my experience is more likely to be an aberration and a thing of the past. In their efforts to advance the treatment of Cancer and advocate on behalf those being treated for cancer, I am confident that not only the research, but also the quality of life during and after the experience of being treated for sarcomas will be markedly improved.