Kelly Brown, chondrosarcoma cancer survivor, shares her sarcoma story in his own words.
I get asked often what the signs were of chondrosarcoma as a chondrosarcoma cancer survivor. Sometime in 2018, I felt a strange lump beside my left knee. It wasn’t painful and did not affect everyday life. Moving into 2019, I was diagnosed with severe anemia and uterine fibroids. Working alongside my gynecologist and a naturopath, we got the anemia under control and tried different ways to keep from losing my uterus. During this time, I was very fatigued, and at times, my knee would lock if I was going from sitting to standing or it would buckle when I walked. I never mentioned it to anyone but my husband. It was kind of like one of those issues I could live with and mostly ignore because I had other things going on. In September 2019, my husband and I hiked Pulpit Rock in Norway. I always look back on this day as the day Chondrosarcoma reared its ugly head!! I was in excruciating pain in my left knee. There were tears and lots of them. I didn’t understand why I was in so much pain. Again, after the hike and a bit of rest, I ignored the issues in my leg.
At the end of 2019 it was determined I would require a hysterectomy. Honestly, I was ready to be free of painful cycles and anemia. In January of 2020 I had a hysterectomy. The surgery went great, and I was thankful to be moving past this hiccup in life. I remember being so tired after surgery. I would fall asleep while eating. I never really got my strength back. My mom had the same surgery 6 weeks after me and bounced right back. I was just not bouncing back quickly. I had no idea at the time what my body was really going through.
By October of 2020 the pain in my leg was happening on a regular basis. One afternoon, I was planting bulbs for the spring, and I couldn’t get off the ground. The pain was excruciating, and I couldn’t put weight on my leg to get up. I KNEW I needed to get it checked out by my doctor, and I FINALLY did!!!
Don’t be like me and ignore lumps, pain, and fatigue. Don’t ignore ANY changes in your body and your health. Don’t ignore your children if they have bone pain or a bruise that won’t go away.
The first step in getting a diagnosis for me was an MRI order by my primary care physician. I had a virtual visit with him at the end of October 2020. He could see the raised “spot” beside my knee over my phone camera. He informed me that I would possibly be getting a referral to Ortho Carolina with a specialist once the MRI was completed. The MRI was scheduled within a week of our virtual visit on a Friday morning. Once I completed the MRI, I went on about my day packing for a trip to South Florida. I was scheduled to go see my youngest present her Senior Research Project and, after that, a work trip to Disney and Universal. As my husband and I were packing the car Friday evening, my cell phone rang. It was Dr. Batchelor. He said, “Hey Kelly, it’s Tom Batchelor, and I just wanted to let you know I got your MRI results back, and the spot you are feeling is actually a tumor.” My response was, “like cancer tumor?” He had no idea by just seeing MRI results if the tumor was benign or not. He then proceeded to inform me of what the next couple weeks would entail. I would start by being seen at Levine Cancers Rare and Complex Center. I was to be non-weigt bearing, and I needed to get a set of x-rays the next day to send to Levines.
It was an immediate whirlwind of emotions. I was scared of what it could possibly be, but I was also not going to allow a bunch of negative thoughts to ruin my trip to Florida. I refocused and tried my best to go about a normal life until my upcoming appointment with Levine Cancer Institute. I put on my positive, happy face and proudly watched my youngest present her project. My oldest daughter met us in Florida to help me navigate the theme parks while being non-weight bearing, which was honestly miserable, so I cut the trip short!! I didn’t want to scare my girls, so I remained calm and as positive as possible.
I early November, I had my first appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Patt of Levine Cancer Institute. I immediately knew I was in good hands. His kindness was evident from the first meeting. I had to go to this appointment by myself because of covid. Everyone at Levines made me feel welcome and well cared for. Dr. Patt and I discussed what had been happening over the last year and came up with a game plan based on the results of the MRI and X rays. We would start with in office X rays to confirm there were no masses in the chest. An insane amount of blood was drawn for labs. A CT guided biopsy of the femur was scheduled, along with a full body PET Scan.
Depending on the outcome of the upcoming biopsy and scan, we had a tentative game plan.
I left the appointment scared and confused. My daughter Mikayla was waiting in the car, and I could NOT let her see me upset. I felt like the drive home took forever, and all I wanted was to be in the arms of my husband and cry.
July 2023 – Kelly is doing really well. She is traveling to see family and also seeing the world! Go, Kelly go!
Chondrosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that develops in cartilage cells. It is the second most common type of primary bone cancer. Chondrosarcoma primarily affects the cartilage cells of the femur (thighbone), arm, pelvis, or knee.
Symptoms of chondrosarcoma may vary depending on the location of the tumor. The following are the most common symptoms of chondrosarcoma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include: