Now, having undergone two major surgeries, she is sharing her story to help others.
I first started to experience symptoms about a year before I was diagnosed. I experienced chronic pain in my thigh, but as I used to do a lot of running, I put the pain down to overuse. The pain was sometimes a sharp pain and at other times a dull ache. The pain used to come and go and then became continuous and would be worse at night.
I went to my GP, who referred me for NHS physiotherapy, which wasn't great. I also paid for a private osteopath, had sports massages, and even acupuncture. I went through tubes and tubes of ibuprofen gel.
I tried lots of different things to help with the pain, but nothing really helped.
I decided to go back to the GP after a particularly bad night when I couldn't sleep and was sobbing because of the pain. I then phoned the GP the next day and went to see her. She looked at my case history, could see I was a fit and active person, and decided something wasn't right. This was in June 2022.
She referred me for an x-ray at my local health centre. I found out later that the radiology team had cancelled the x-ray as they thought it was not necessary and would cost too much money, but luckily for me my GP was persistent.
I had the x-ray and was called the same evening and told there was an unusual change in my leg, and was asked if I had ever broken my thigh. I went to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge the following day for an MRI scan, and the results showed that the bone in my thigh had thickened and was bowing. A CT scan soon followed to check for metastatic spread.
I was then referred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) in Birmingham for a biopsy. This was in August 2022. Following the biopsy, I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma.
I had my first surgery on 14th September 2022 to remove the tumour along with most of my thigh bone. The surgery was successful and the surgeon was able to get good clear margins.
Given the size and grade of the tumour, my surgeon wanted to remove the tumour and replace the bone with a metal spacer whilst the custom-built metal prosthesis was constructed.
I was non weightbearing for five months whilst I waited for my second surgery to remove the spacer and fit my endo-prosthesis. I had this surgery on 17th February 2023.
I am now almost 10 weeks post-surgery. Whilst I recovered better after my second surgery than my first, my knee does not bend properly. I still have my knee joint, so this has not been affected by my surgery, but it has seized up after being non weightbearing for five months between surgeries.
I have started physiotherapy at Addenbrooke's and I am due to have a week's intensive physiotherapy at ROH, so hopefully my strength and mobility will improve, and I will be able to return to physical activity which I love so much.
I currently have three monthly check-ups (leg and chest x-ray) to check that the cancer hasn't returned or spread. So far, my lungs have remained clear. It looks like the cancer was removed in its entirety during the first surgery.
I was extremely fortunate that my GP sent me for an x-ray when she did, but things have happened so quickly.
In the last eight months I have received a cancer diagnosis and undergone two major leg surgeries. I'm still coming to terms with what has happened. My life has changed literally overnight for me and my family.
Following my diagnosis my good friends, Laura and Naomi, and I have set up the '2023 Bone Cancer Charity Fundraisers.' We have already raised over £5,000 from a quiz night, giant raffle, and generous donations. We have lots more events planned culminating in a charity hike to the summit of Snowdon #SnowdonForSally. I remain hopeful that I'll be able to join everyone on the walk.
Raising awareness of symptoms is so important to ensure GPs refer patients for x-rays and scans. Early diagnosis and treatment may help to avoid chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment.