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A difficult Path – Suné Knoetze

I know from my experience with Leukaemia when I was seventeen that the emotional implications are often an oversight in the lives of the people around you. I don’t think it is intentional, however I do believe that only if you have experienced this pain for yourself, can you truly understand.

I got this message on Facebook from a girl named Andrea Boonzaaier;

I was so taken-a-back by this and I just remember feeling this amazing rush of happiness because there and then I realized that my message was being received and it was helping others. The friend Andrea was talking about was Suné Knoetze, also a Cancer survivor and her birthday was coming up soon. Secretly, Andrea and I started planning that I would come to surprise her at The Unicorn Café where her birthday lunch was to be held.

The days leading up to Suné’s birthday, we chatted and she opened up to me about her experience with Cancer at the young age of just seven. Suné was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma. This is a form of Cancer in the bone. To a normal person on the street, you would not even know how to pronounce this; yet this young, innocent baby girl had been diagnosed with it. My heart broke as she told me that she was now seventeen (the same age I was when I was diagnosed) and that she was going through a difficult time emotionally. One of her questions to me was: “How do you cope?” Even though I have been in remission for thirteen years, I still have emotional scars and they will never go away. So does Suné. It is so important to talk about your feelings and have someone just listen. The worst thing a person can ever say to someone who had Cancer is to: Just Get Over It. Those words cut like a knife. Suné, now ten years in remission would like to also share her story and encourage other young people to do the same. I am so incredibly grateful to God for putting her in my path.

Needless to say, I did get to meet Suné on her birthday and thereafter we had a lovely cup of coffee with my mom too where Suné  got the chance to hear my story straight from the person who slept on a lazy boy chair every night watching her daughter fade away. I am so blessed to still be here to tell my story, and because I did, I am helping others with a platform to do the same.

Often depression and post traumatic stress disorder are an everlasting aftermath of going through Cancer. People need to be aware and be sensitive to the fact.

Sune and I at her Birthday
Her friend Andrea who made it all possible for us to meet

Here is some info on Osteogenic Sarcoma:

About Osteosarcoma

Osteogenic sarcoma (osteosarcoma) is a cancer that starts in the bone. It often starts in the ends of the bones where new bone tissue forms as a young person grows. Bones in the thigh, upper arm, and shin are the most common sites, but osteosarcoma can occur anywhere in the body. It usually develops during the period of rapid growth during adolescence, as a teenager matures into an adult.

Osteosarcoma is the most common malignant bone tumor in youth. The average age at diagnosis is 15 years. Boys and girls have a similar incidence of this tumor until late adolescence, at which time boys are more commonly affected.

The cause of osteosarcoma is unknown. Only rarely does osteosarcoma run in families. A defective tumor suppressor gene, allowing tumors to grow, has been linked to increased risk of this disease and is also associated with familial retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer of the eye. Children with familial retinoblastoma have a high risk for osteosarcoma in adolescence.

Osteosarcoma Symptoms

Pain in the affected bone is the most common symptom. This pain may initially come and go and then gradually become more severe and constant. As the tumor grows, there may be visible swelling and limitation of motion. Tumors in the legs cause limping, while those in the arms cause pain on lifting. Swelling over the tumor may be warm and slightly reddened.

Sometimes, the first sign may be a bone fracture. The tumor may cause weakness in the affected area of the bone. A fracture at the site of the tumor is called a “pathological fracture,” which occurs after what often seems like a routine movement. For example, a young athlete who breaks an arm during a routine throw should be tested to ensure there is no underlying bone problem, such as a tumor or cyst.

Osteosarcoma Diagnostic Tests

An X-ray will be taken, and if it suggests that there is a tumor, a CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of the bone will show the characteristics of the tumor. A biopsy is always necessary to identify the type of tumor. This should be done by an orthopedist with expertise in cancer surgery, to ensure that the biopsy is done in such a way that later surgical procedures are not affected. A bone scan, CT scan of the lungs, and blood tests will be administered to find out whether the cancer has spread.

Osteosarcoma Treatment

Most children with osteosarcoma can be cured. Treatment will depend on a number of factors including the size, position, and stage of the tumor (how far the cancer has spread).

In general, chemotherapy (treatment with anticancer drugs) is given to shrink the main tumor. This is often given before the tumor is removed by surgery. Radiation therapy (treatment with targeted X-rays) is rarely needed but is occasionally used when the tumor cannot be removed by surgery.

Treatment usually lasts five to eight months.

This information was taken from the following site. To find out more please follow: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/centers/pediatric_oncology/cancer_types/osteogenic_sarcoma.html