Attitude of Gratitude: Two Patients Reflect on Their Cancer Journeys

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Meet Michelle Mahar - Kasten.

In 2006, while pregnant with her son, Michelle Mahar - Kasten knew something was wrong. She began to have worsening discomfort in her hip and numbness in her leg and foot.

She was eventually diagnosed with an osteosarcoma.

Because the cancer was so aggressive and the chance of recurrence so high, her oncologist suggested she seek treatment at MD Anderson.

Within a month, Mahar - Kasten was living in Houston with her family, including her mother and in-laws. "We made fighting cancer our number one job," she says.

After nine months, Mahar - Kasten completed chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumor in her pelvis and spinal column. Then she had to learn to walk again.

"Surgery left me with limitations and pain for the rest of my life. But it's the reason I'm here," she says.

"I made the choice to fight to survive. I told my family I wasn't going anywhere, and I believed it," she says.

Mahar - Kasten speaks about finding and embracing her new normal.

Meet Jeffrey Head.

"I'm grateful to be here today, more than I can say in words," says Jeffrey Head of Southwest Idaho.

In 2007, Head started experiencing lower back and neuropathic pain. After a CT-directed biopsy, he was diagnosed with sacral chordoma, an extremely rare cancer.

"I called my brother-in-law, who is a physician assistant, and he said, 'You need to go to MD Anderson and see Dr. Laurence Rhines. It's the best place in the world for you to be treated.'"

Within weeks, Head and his wife, Gail, were on their way to MD Anderson.

After a complete sacrectomy, proton radiation, stereotactic radiation and months of rehabilitation, Head is now able to jog.

It's not a fast jog, but for someone without a pelvis it's pretty good.

Listen to Head discuss his battle with sacral chordoma, including an amazing reconstructive surgery.

Watch the full videos of Michelle Mahar - Kasten and Jeffrey Head at the 2nd Annual Spine Tumor Patient Education Conference at MD Anderson.

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1 Comment

These were awesome testimonies. I feel blessed to have met these folks and been able to attend part of the seminar (I had testing for the last few hours). God bless.

Delight Reisanuer

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