Sarcoma Story:
Kevin O'Keefe

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Type of Sarcoma: Synovial Sarcoma
Diagnosis: 2002

Kevin O’Keefe was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, friend, and active RIS volunteer. He chaired the Party in the Park for two years, served as a board member, event volunteer, and on the Red Flags Education and Patient and Family Support committees. As a volunteer, Kevin has brought dedication, warmth and charisma – he encouraged many others to become RIS volunteers.

Kevin was uncertain as to when the cancer originally appeared as he had experienced cramping in his right thigh for many years. In 2000 Kevin experienced an excruciatingly painful leg injury at work. The muscle in his right thigh blew up, became purple and was very painful sending him to the hospital for blood clots and treatment. Within about six months, doctors found what they thought was a calcium deposit on his right side. He visited four different doctors and a physical therapist, yet the lump continued to grow. He was finally referred to the Mayo Clinic.

After more tests at Mayo Clinic Kevin was told that he needed to see an oncologist. The oncologist ordered additional tests but thought there was a 90% chance that he had some type of sarcoma. Given the distance, Kevin opted to have a biopsy closer to home at the University of Minnesota. A diagnosis of Synovial Sarcoma was confirmed.

Kevin’s cancer treatment at the UMN began with chemotherapy, then surgery, followed by more chemotherapy and radiation. Following his initial treatment, he had a long remission. Kevin and his family established the Kevin O’Keefe Named Fund in 2013 to help support the Rein in Sarcoma mission. Kevin always encouraged people to attend Party in the Park so they could get to know people from RIS, connect with others affected by sarcoma, and experience a great family-fun night!

After a long remission, cancer returned in his lung - Kevin passed away in January, 2019.