Monday 3 February, 2020

Finding Mr. Right for My Left Leg (aka my surgeon)

Kara, based in the US, is a synovial sarcoma survivor.

I didn’t have the best first go-around with my surgeon. Can anyone relate? Check out my first post to read why I was pessimistic about finding Mr. Right for my left leg surgery… but alas, I finally did. 

The first day I met my now surgeon, Dr. John Healey, I was in the middle of chemotherapy (attached to my toxic boyfriend once again) and feeling very ill. The MSK waiting room was packed with people and all I wanted was to be horizontal in my bed with netflix playing in the background while I half snoozed, half listened.

Dr. John Healey was my man

After over a 2.5 hour wait, it was my turn and I quickly realized why we were running so far behind. I have never met a man who maintains so much presence with his patients, literally giving every ounce of his being to the present moment. He will spend hours with just one patient if that’s what it takes to gain their trust and thoroughly explain every option and detail about their unique situation. After seeing this kind of bedside manner (especially after my first surgery speedbump), I knew that Dr. John Healey was my man. 

Over the four months I was in chemotherapy

I saw Dr. Healey in between just about every chemotherapy session for four scans — an MRI of my tibula, fibula, knee, and femur. Over the four months I was in chemotherapy, Dr. Healey monitored my progress and laid out every option for surgery — from amputation to just a portion of my tibial nerve being removed. Considering I was young and have a lot of life to live, we went for the middle-of-the-road option and decided to remove my entire left tibial nerve. This would lower my rate of recurrence, but I would develop drop foot, due to limited ankle mobility and strength, and would likely loose sensation on the bottom of my left foot due to radiation post-surgery.

In the end, I not only ended up having a successful surgery with Dr. Healey, but a miraculous one, where they were able to save the motor function of my left foot. I may not have a tibial nerve, but I’m moving forward cancer and drop-foot free — and sometimes in heels. 

Kara, based in the US, is a synovial sarcoma survivor.

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