Marisa Cogswell was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma at age 24. This was a month after she gave birth to my daughter, Francesca. She lives and gets treatment in Austin, Texas. She recently finished chemo and *should* get her six-month clean bill of health this month. She also have my permanent prosthetic leg and can walk flawlessly. She has started running and biking and she said: "Those are coming at a lot slower of a pace but I'm getting there."
About seven years ago I noticed a dime-sized bump on my left foot. I told my mom about it and we went to a podiatrist who quickly dismissed it as a cyst. Over the years it hurt only when touched so I ignored it because it did not seem that serious.
Jan. 13, 2017 is when I found out I was expecting my first child with my husband. I was beyond excited! However, as my stomach grew, so did the bump on my foot. I went to a podiatrist who said that after my baby daughter was born he would remove the “cyst.” I was blessed with my daughter on Aug. 13, 2017 and about a month later I was waiting in a hospital gown for my huge cyst to be removed! I was so happy that I would be able to wear any shoes I wanted again and be pain-free!
I remember the week before my surgery that my doctor felt confident about what exactly this big lump on my foot was due to the MRI and ultrasound results he had gotten. He said that although my MRI said possible “sarcoma” it was basically “impossible.” A sort of “one in a million” scenario.
Sept. 22, 2017 is when I was called back into the office. I had my mom with me when he told me I’m “one in a million.” I had a synovial sarcoma in my foot. I had cancer. My brain immediately went to my daughter. I couldn’t leave her motherless. I immediately went to an orthopedic surgeon and oncologist who said that chemo and amputation was the best remedy for my cancer.
Without hesitation, I’ve been fighting my battle. Despite everything I’ve gone through, I’ve had very few days of feeling sorry for myself. Everyone is entitled to have their bad days but before I started my journey another cancer survivor told me “if you’re not laughing, you’re crying.” I have definitely found that to be the case.
“That will cost me an arm and a leg!”
“You don’t have a leg to stand on”
These are just a few of the jokes I have used after my left below the knee amputation due to my cancer. Despite this being one of the biggest decisions of my life, it truly wasn't a hard decision to make. I knew this would lessen the chance of recurrence of my sarcoma as well as give me better odds of survival and I knew I had to be there to watch my daughter grow up.
Remaining positive and lighthearted through a cancer diagnosis as well as amputation was not easy but necessary to keep my sanity. I could have wallowed in my situation but what good does that do? I didn’t want people to constantly tip toe around me because they were too afraid to talk to me about cancer or being an amputee. And a good ice breaker is always a joke. If people feel at ease with the conversation they can learn something they would have been too afraid to ask about my situation.
Although some people want their cancer journey to remain private, I want to be an advocate. I need people to know that it CAN happen to you. I also want to spread positivity and humor into people’s life. Bad situations do not automatically equivocate to having a bad attitude towards life. Enjoy life and the little things it brings. Start each morning on the right foot. That’s the only way I live life now. Seriously, I only have my right foot.
This journey has been a blessing in disguise. I appreciate and enjoy life more than I ever thought possible. I love every moment with my daughter and family. I also realized how strong I am as a person. Cancer may have taken things from me but it also gave me things in return. Spreading awareness about this rare cancer and getting people to CHECK UP with their doctors is extremely important to me! Don’t ever think “it can’t happen to me!” because you truly never know!