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Jane - Sarcoma

Jane - Sarcoma

Two thousand ten was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad year for Jane. The then-28-year-old Seattle baker first had really bad back pain, which put her out of work for a week. While in bed, she noticed a growth in her stomach region. She went in to get it checked, and it turned out to be cancer—a leiomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer, that was putting pressure on her sciatic nerve. But her bad luck didn’t end there; a month after surgery to remove the cancer, she was hit by a car and ended up in the hospital. 

When Jane first had her cancer surgery, her doctors suggested radiation as a next step. But the car accident got in the way, and by the time she had recovered, her numbers were such that doctors no longer recommended any additional treatment plan. So she went on her merry way, continuing to bake, attending baking conferences, and going back to her parents' original home in South Korea for visits with extended family.

Almost six years to the day of her original diagnosis, and one year after her wedding day, her cancer came back. Said Jane, “I had immediate surgery, but this time, I wanted radiation, too, so it wouldn’t come back again.” Because Jane, now 35, wanted children, her doctors recommended proton therapy. “Because of my young age, they wanted to avoid radiation-induced secondary cancers, and they wanted a radiation that could be highly targeted to avoid my reproductive organs. That’s why they felt strongly about proton therapy.”

Getting radiation treatments five days a week for six weeks was difficult, but Jane said the people made it better. “Because I didn’t want to be seen as a victim of my cancer, I kept working and didn’t talk about my cancer at all. But I was able to let my guard down at the SCCA Proton Therapy Center, and they became my biggest support system. Every single person I worked with, from the front desk to the radiation technicians, truly cared about my well-being. They are genuinely the most sincere, caring people.”

During the six weeks of daily treatments, Jane kept baking. She went into work earlier, so she could leave in time for late afternoon proton treatments. The tiredness, a common side-effect, hit her hard, but she kept working despite it all. Luckily, she had little radiation sunburn, another possible side-effect.

After 30 days of treatment, Jane went to her proton therapy graduation ceremony. “On my last day, I was bawling. I can’t believe I’m not going to see these people anymore. As hard as it was, both emotionally and physically, it was hard to part with these great people. My graduation was very emotional, but I’m glad I went.”

Today, Jane is back to her normal life, and is looking forward to starting her family with her husband, Tom. She just got back from a conference on baking with honey in Rhode Island. Her advice to others diagnosed with cancer? “Regular radiation can have a lot of harsh side effects. Proton therapy is more targeted and controlled. I would definitely encourage people to go that route if they have the option.”