Samantha has kindly shared her story of strength and how she’s ready to start living her life to the full as soon as it is safe to do so.
I first started experiencing symptoms April 2019, which was a swollen gum. After about four weeks I visited my dentist and after seeing him three times in two weeks he referred me to the Oral and Maxillofacial Unit at Airedale Hospital. In this time the only other symptom I experienced was a slight tingling on the outside of my face.
I was first sent for a cone beam scan, as the surgeon did not believe that it was anything sinister due to the way it presented, I was seen within a few weeks. Very soon after, I was told I would need a biopsy, and then within a week of the biopsy I was diagnosed with osteoblastic osteosarcoma. I was 26 years old at the time.
At first, I was numb and in shock. I have always been a very anxious person and worry at the first sign of anything… but once it had sunk in I kind of just got on with it and I went into survival mode. I kept working right up until going into hospital for my first chemotherapy session to keep my mind busy.
I had 10 weeks of chemotherapy as an in-patient prior to surgery. I had a 13-hour operation on my jaw to remove the tumour in my left mandible and it was replaced with fibula and soft tissue from my left leg.
Three weeks post operation, I completed a further 18 weeks as an in-patient for chemotherapy. Initial results look promising, but I still have a lot of dental reconstruction to come.
I completed my chemotherapy early March 2020 and have been advised I am now in remission. However, I am still under close observation with my oncologist and surgeon.
I am ready to start living my life to the full as soon as it is safe to do so! I mostly feel positive; and very proud of what I have overcome, but bad days creep in every now and then, but having the support of family and friends really helps me get through.
It is a strange time at the moment due to Covid-19. I feel stronger and stronger every day, however I am restricted in what I can do as my immune system is still low.
I had a fast diagnosis, fast treatment, good care throughout, amazing surgery results. However, it takes a long time for the specialist bone cancer unit to confirm the results which is a worrying time. I had multiple line infections resulting in sepsis and extra time spent in hospital. I also had a lack of psychological support from the mental health unit in the hospital having been referred by my cancer nurse specialist.
During my treatment I became a lot more dependent on my parents than I would usually be. I had to move back in with them for several weeks to cope and I was unable to work due to spending so much time in hospital.
I received fantastic support from my family and friends. I also received quick responses to any problems I had from the specialist nurse. I also got strength from reading other patients bone cancer success stories.
My advice to others would be to seek immediate advice if you are worried about anything. Do not bottle up your emotions and try and speak to you family, friends or others that have been in a similar position. Concentrate on the positives, and not the negatives
Awareness is so important because bone cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer and any delay in diagnosis could be the difference between a positive and a negative outcome. Although you may be scared, the earlier you are diagnosed and start treatment the better it will be in the long run.
Despite all the challenges Samantha is facing at the moment, she has decided to take on our Step Up For Bone Cancer Challenge and support our life-saving work. From 15th June, Samantha will complete 52,000 steps in one week – one step for everyone bone cancer patient diagnosed worldwide each year. If you would like to support her, click here.