Strides for Sarcoma - Margaret Schroeder
In June 2021, shortly after my 25th birthday, as an otherwise healthy, happy, and active young woman, I was diagnosed with a rare (~1 in 1,000,000) cancer called synovial sarcoma. Thankfully the tumor, about the size of an egg and located behind my right knee, had not yet metastasized and was treatable.
Since there is no cure for synovial sarcoma, complete surgical resection is the only means of achieving disease-free survival, as was the case for my disease. Over the course of 3 months, I underwent 4 cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and 5 weeks of radiation at the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. The goal was to shrink my tumor as much as possible to prepare for life-saving surgery.
I have been a runner for many years, competing in high school cross country and track and running road races throughout college and grad school. When I first got diagnosed, I feared I'd never be able to run again. I was told by the doctors who diagnosed me that the function of my leg might never be the same again. My amazing surgical team at the Brigham, led by Dr. Chandrajit Raut, Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at BWH and Professor of Surgery at HMS, gave me hope for a better outcome. I told my team that I want to run a marathon at age 26, and they listened.
In October 2021, an amazing surgical team performed an 8-hour surgery which included resection of the tumor and an involved vein, a venous graft, and complex reconstruction to plug the golfball-sized hole left behind. In the planning and execution of my surgery, Dr. Raut took special steps to preserve the functionality of my leg because I am a runner. He called in Dr. Matthew Menard (vascular surgery) to perform the venous graft, which is not attempted on most patients, and Dr. Lydia Helliwell (plastic surgery) to perform the reconstruction.
In addition to treating patients, Dr. Raut conducts research focused on multidisciplinary management of sarcomas. For example, he is currently developing a novel, implantable drug-eluting film to reduce the rate of local recurrence in sarcoma. Soft tissue sarcoma is a rare disease, and like all rare diseases, is in desperate need of research funding. All funds raised by Strides for Sarcoma will support Dr. Raut’s sarcoma research and education fund.
Thanks to my surgeons, medical oncologist Dr. Suzanne George, radiation oncologist Dr. Elizabeth Baldini, and many wonderful nurses, I am alive and walking (plus swimming, biking, jogging and occasionally dancing :)) on two healthy legs. I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to run/walk through my favorite part of Boston with you all this June, and to give back to the amazing clinicians who saved my life. Please join me in supporting Dr. Raut’s research so that more sarcoma patients can have outcomes like mine.
About the Brigham
Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) care for patients across New England, throughout the United States, and from 120 countries around the world. Every day, our clinicians, researchers, and caregivers work to find new ways to predict, prevent, and treat the most challenging diseases of our time while delivering world-class care with a profoundly human touch. Our Brigham 10K Teammates are proud to fuel quality patient care, innovative training, and life-changing discoveries that will benefit patients here in Boston and around the world, all in support of an area that is meaningful to them.
Thank you for supporting this extraordinary group of runners.
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