As we celebrate this holiday season and look forward to the New Year, many of us are filled with joy and anticipation for what lies ahead. However, for some, receiving a sarcoma diagnosis can be life-altering and devastating. Here are some stories of hope from sarcoma survivors who have continued to live full and vibrant lives long after a diagnosis. Julie Rose, Kraig Kuusinen and Ralph Clare have all inspired others to pay-it-forward and live life to the fullest.
Julie Rose was just four years old when she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. She continued treatment into kindergarten and is fortunate to have been cancer free ever since. She has been in remission for over thirty years and counting. Julie leads a very full and active life as a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, full-time employee and very active volunteer with Rein in Sarcoma. Julie is a board member and has volunteered with Rein in Sarcoma for the past eight years. She inspires others by openly sharing her personal sarcoma story and lending her hand to various Rein in Sarcoma committees including the Talent and Resource Committee and the Patient and Family Support Committee. Julie also volunteers every summer with our big summer event Party in the Park. Julie says, “I am blessed to be able to share my experiences with others, and I hope that there is something in my story that might give some hope to someone else. Things happen to each and every one of us, but at the end of the day we choose where the story goes from there.”
Kraig Kuusinen is another long-term survivor who leads a very active life. Kraig was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 1986 with a tumor in his left leg when he was a college student at the University of Minnesota. He worked very hard and stayed in school even though he had to walk the University campus on crutches and sometimes had to leave class early due to illness from chemotherapy. In 1987 Kraig had a relapse with a tumor in his brain. After a successful surgery and treatment Kraig has been in remission for thirty years and counting. He now works full time and volunteers much of his free time with Rein in Sarcoma. He’s an active volunteer with the Rein in Sarcoma Patient and Family Support Committee and always gathers amazing donated items for the Party in the Park silent auction. Kraig says “always stay optimistic and believe that you will make it. Talk with people about what you’re going through.”
Ralph Clare was diagnosed with sarcoma at fifty-seven years old and lived to the age of eighty-eight without a reoccurrence. After serving with the U.S. Army during the Korean War then retiring from a long career as a licensed professional civil engineer, Ralph continued to live a very active life. At age seventy Ralph bungee jumped in New Zealand. At eighty-six years old he went sky diving. Many sarcoma patients have said Ralph inspired them to have hope and continue treatment in spite of all the challenging side eff ects associated with cancer treatment. Shirely Clare, Ralph’s wife of sixty-three years said “his only wish was to be an inspiration to others since he was a thirty-one year survivor.” Ralph passed away at eighty-eight years old this November 18th of complications not related to sarcoma. Ralph continues to inspire us with his legacy of hope and living life to the fullest.
If you’d like to get involved with supporting sarcoma patients and their loved ones please join us for our next Patient and Family Support Committee meeting on Monday, December 12 from 7-8:30 pm.
To learn more contact Connie Dow at Ph: 844-727-2662 ext 3, or via email.
Read more about our Patient and Family Support Committee.