Sarcoma Story: Christin Garcia

Type of Sarcoma: Synovial Sarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: August 2007

Garcia_ChristinI’ve always been a hiker – and a thinker and a writer – but not so much a patient. I do not wish to declare pain or limitation. I’m a minimalist, not an alarmist. I have iliotibial band syndrome. There’s nothing much wrong with me: BUT, there’s a lump beside my knee that’s bigger than an egg, and it hurts when I sit for long. I I walk with a limp, and at night the pain is so bad I can’t really sleep. I am so exhausted. You think there might be something wrong with me?

It is August 16, 2007.

SYNOVIAL SARCOMA: What does this mean? I’m somewhere on the happy side of a coin toss. This is big. But Dr. Clohisy talks to us in such a measured, low-key way, with such a quiet strength, this also seems so workable. My family draws together. We will be fine. Dr. Weigel answers our questions so patiently. This place feels like home.

CHEMOTHERAPY FIRST: Doxil in clinic, then an ifosfamide home pack for eight days. My nurses are respectful, tough and funny. Chemo is really hard, but not what I feared. Taking these treatments is like riding a wave. Every fourth week, I am flying. Dr. Skubitz keeps me laughing through our entire visit, each time, though we talk about my constricting throat, my disintegrating mouth, and whether I found the strength to leave my house. This is such a gift.

SURGERY NEXT: Dr. Clohisy saves my leg, beautifully – radical total knee replacement, plus. The first days are really, really hard. My nurses, aides and therapists are amazing. Within a week, I am home. A few days later, I feel better than before. My wound heals perfectly, with hardly a scar. Physical therapy hurts, but I can stand it. In less than two months, I’m walking on my own. I still walk funny, but I can’t tell you how much I LOVE MY NEW KNEE.

THEN RADIATION: This is so easy. Happy people greet me, arrange me, then beam me for a few minutes each day. Dr. Cho is open and enthusiastic. But by the end, my skin really hurts. My knee won’t bend. I am so tired. Aren’t I done yet?! Not done yet. I decide to sink into the sarcoma literature, on my own – big mistake. I make incorrect connections, and even when I’m right, there is nothing helpful here. Slowly, I kind of crack up, for the first time, ever. Infinite thanks to my medical team for a safe landing. I’m fine again. My family, we all are fine. Yet how will we stay that way? THIS IS STILL SO BIG! Will I ever get used to being scanned?

GarciaFamily-1So we return to those things that always have sustained us. On our best days, we remember to LOVE each other, infinitely and with great tenderness. Fill our spirits with life-affirming messages, so there is no room for darkness. Share poetry.

Sing. Laugh. Dance. Play. PRAY.

Receive grace from our amazing family, friends, and church community, and share grace, too. Is there anything more sacred than to be a light? Offer thanks, daily and sincerely, for sunshine and snowflakes, for bird songs and “absolutely normal chaos,” for life, and for each other – and for all who have shared with us their truly beautiful kindness . . .

Christin has written a memoir about her experience called “Pulse: My cancer journey.” For a PDF of this very moving and uplifting story, click here.

Christin and her family have also established an RIS Tribute Fund: Pulse – The Christin Garcia Fund. If you would like to please contribute to this fund or would like more information, visit the RIS donation page by clicking here. To make a secure donation page online, click here, and indicate in the “Named Fund” box that you want to contribute to the Pulse-Christin Garcia Fund.