What I Want Others To Know This Sarcoma Awareness Month

July 1st marks the beginning of what now and forevermore will be a very important month for me: Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Month. On July 1st of last year, the word “sarcoma” was not even a part of my vocabulary. It wasn’t until the middle of July that I would become a sarcoma cancer fighter and, believe me, my awareness of the disease has been peaked!

I think so many of us are like that whether we be in and out of the healthcare industry. My primary care doctor, radiologist, and first surgeon had never seen a sarcoma tumor before. I only had one friend who knew what it was due to her brother having battled it. And almost every other person that I have spoken with doesn’t have any idea what it is. I certainly didn’t until I was diagnosed.

It is a privilege to be sharing facts about sarcoma with you today. I want to help create as much awareness as possible and encourage all of us to learn more about not only sarcoma, but all cancers.

So, in honor of Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Month, here are some stats and recommendations I have about sarcoma:

Sarcoma is represented by a yellow ribbon and sunflowers.

The bright yellow and beauty of the flowers always found ways to lighten the dark days for me during treatment and brings a glimmer of hope each time I see them to this day.

Sarcoma makes up less than 1% of the cancer population.

With around 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses each year in the United States, sarcoma only makes up around 15,000 of those. That may seem like a large number, but that’s an average of only 300 people per state per year.

Sarcoma can be classified as soft-tissue or non-soft tissue (bone) cancer.

With over 50 subtypes of soft-tissue sarcoma (blood vessels, fat, nerves, tendons, muscle, tissues around joints, and more) and non-soft-tissue sarcoma (bones, nerves within bones, cartilage, blood vessels, and more), the already small group of sarcoma warriors is even more spread out amidst the many types.

A “Sarcoma Center” is only required to see 100 sarcoma patients per year.

With the many subtypes of sarcoma, it is possible that the person diagnosed could be the only one being seen with that specific type of sarcoma at a specific clinic. It is always important to call and ask different centers how many sarcoma patients they see each year and make a decision on where to be treated based on that and their statistics. I can’t recommend a truly high-volume clinic enough.

(Requirements to be considered a sarcoma center are specified on the Sarcoma Alliance website here.)

Dr. Google is NOT your friend.

When researching statistics online, an array of results will appear and they aren’t always easy to digest. Only check reputable websites and centers for accurate information like the Sarcoma Foundation of America, Sarcoma Alliance, MD Anderson Cancer Center, American Cancer Society, and more. Also, keep in mind that stats are groups of people but it is individuals who are treated. So don’t read too deeply into stats.

The number of sarcoma fighters isn’t a large one, but to each individual, it has likely made one of the most life-changing impacts when it entered his/her life. I know it did for me.

This is why we look forward to the research, education, and clinical trials that are developing and moving forward within the sarcoma field. We are hopeful and fighting each day to create awareness and find a cure.

I would encourage you today to make it a point to wear a yellow ribbon this month to help spread awareness. And each time you see a sunflower, say a prayer for sarcoma survivors {in treatment and post treatment}.

Thank you for reading and for being a part of Sarcoma Awareness Month! God bless you!

Sources and more information on sarcoma:

Sarcoma Foundation of America

      MD Anderson Cancer Center:

Bone cancer
Ewing’s Sarcoma
Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Childhood Osteosarcoma

Sarcoma Alliance
American Cancer Society
The latest edition of The Sarcoma Journal can be found here

What's your experience with Sarcoma cancer like? Share your story in the comments below!

Image courtesy of author.