Sarcoma Story: Kara Dolney

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Type of Sarcoma: Myxoid Sarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: 2018
Location: hand

More than seven years ago, I noticed a bruise on my left hand that appeared spontaneously and was then followed up by a lump. This lump did not provide discomfort or limit functioning in my hand, so I didn’t do anything about it. A year or two later the lump was growing and became irritated if I bumped it. I consulted with my primary care doctor who referred me to Summit Orthopedics where the doctor recommended surgery biopsy for further diagnostic clarification.

Following this initial surgery, I started to see the lump return even before I had my post-op appointment with my doctor. During my follow-up appointment, the doctor was uncertain if the recurrence was scar tissue, so it was determined that observation was best. This watch period proceeded for a couple of years. When I returned to the doctor in the fall of 2017, he remarked that the lump was bigger than the first time. Another biopsy surgery was conducted. Following this surgery there was still no definitive diagnosis, so he referred me to the Mayo Clinic.

My Mayo Clinic journey began by meeting Dr. Matthew Houdek who was familiar with tumors, and a plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Moran who would be involved. After the review of records, a radical surgery was recommended that would remove the mass and anything else that was touching the mass. The surgery was scheduled for May 23, 2018. On the day of surgery Dr. Houdek gave me the option to do a less invasive surgery as it was still unclear if my tumor was cancerous. Amidst a lot of anxiety, I chose to continue with the planned procedure. Upon waking from what turned out to be a 12-hour surgery, one of my doctors informed me that I made a good choice because my tumor was malignant. At that time all I remember was a sigh of relief.

Following that surgery, I spent several weeks recovering and meeting with OT to help regain functioning in my hand using multiple exercises and splints. Eventually I had a conversation with my surgeon, Dr. Houdek that radiation treatment was recommended due to the high recurrent rate of my tumor. I then went through six weeks of radiation at the Mayo Clinic. At the time of radiation, my pathology report was not complete as my tumor was so rare. It was determined to be a form of sarcoma that had properties of a myxoid sarcoma.

I completed radiation treatment with MRI and CT scans every three months which were clear. I have had nine surgeries over the past two years and regular occupational therapy to regain further function in my hand. I am now scheduled to receive MRI and CT scans every six months to help monitor for recurrence. As a result of these surgeries and therapies, I now have function and mobility to carry out the majority of my daily needs.

Kara and her family have been active volunteers and supporters since their introduction to Rein in Sarcoma at the Fall Fundraiser 2018. Kara regularly delivers Patient Starter Notebooks and tote bags for patients to Mayo Clinic. They have established the Kara Dolney Named Fund in support of the Rein in Sarcoma mission.

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