Sarcoma Story – Neil Belkin

Neil Belkin

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We invite you to tell us your
sarcoma story, as a patient,
survivor, or as someone who has lost
a loved one to sarcoma.

Type of Sarcoma:
Date of Diagnosis: 2016
Location: Leg

Back in 2016, I was having an arthritis problem with my left knee. However, when I went to see my doctor, Dr. Eggert, he didn’t like the look of my right leg. He sent me to Dr. Edward Cheng at the University of Minnesota, who discovered through an MRI that there were cancer cells in my right leg. Dr. Cheng wanted me in surgery right away. After operating on me for seven and a half hours, they had removed a sarcoma the size of a ball.

I spent a week and a half in the hospital, then moved to a nursing home in St. Louis Park for one week. After being discharged, I started seeing Dr. Dusenbery in the UMN Department of Radiation Oncology for a regimen of thirty-five radiation treatments. That tired me out.

A year later they found cancerous cells in my left lung. I was upset about it, of course, and I had to have a few more treatments of radiation. It’s been a long, tough road, but I’m now cancer free! I’ll soon be 82 years old.

I have just adored my doctors. Dr. Eggert—the doctor who first noticed something suspicious—he saved my life. Dr. Cheng was my lead doctor—he saved my life, too. Dr. Dusenbery—fantastic. I’m so thankful.

Sometimes I look back and think to myself, “How will I be able to keep going to the grocery store, and make all my appointments?” But I had good help from HealthPartners Insurance company. They are tremendous people. They ordered me a walker for me through my insurance and helped me navigate through it all.

I’m going to continue enjoying my life and my family. I still get out. I’m an election judge through the city of Minnetonka. I’m on the board of directors of my association. I’m enjoying retirement.

My advice when you are in the midst of going through cancer treatment: (is that) you have to limit your activities because treatments can really tire you out. You have to slow down. I took a nap every day.

Also, don’t be afraid. Get more than one opinion, which I did. I checked out all of the doctors’ backgrounds. If you need surgery, take it seriously. Follow your doctor’s instructions. I had to quit my job to put everything on hold and focused all my energy on into healing. That’s what I recommend. Every cancer is different, and hopefully someday there will be a cure. I’m still alive and have accomplished a lot. You only have one life—enjoy it the best you can.

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