Finding Support during a Cancer Journey
- Avery Henry is a freshman football player at The Ohio State University. He recently shared he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, and fellow cancer warriors, fans and friends alike were quick to reply with their support.
- Osteogenic sarcoma, also called osteosarcoma, is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones.
- Having support through cancer – whether it’s from social media or your nearest and dearest loved ones – is critical, and there are many people out there for cancer warriors to be vulnerable with if they want to.
Avery Henry is a freshman at The Ohio State University from St. Clairsville, Ohio. A 6-foot-6-inch and 309 pound football player, Henry was a member of the 2022 Ohio State recruiting class. But things took a turn for the worse when he recently discovered he had a rare cancer called osteosarcoma.Read More
Another teammate expressed a similar, touching sentiment of support.
“We love you brother, we are with you in this fight!” Paris Johnson Jr. wrote.
But one reply really stood out among the rest.
Avery, I had osteosarcoma at 16. I am 50 now. Returned to the field my senior year as a hopping nose guard. I know the battle you are fighting. Keep your head up and your feet under you. Prayers for you in this fight. pic.twitter.com/FeMxGOPIGc
— Ken (@KenKnipp78) December 20, 2022
“Avery, I had osteosarcoma at 16. I am 50 now,” Twitter user @KenKnipp78 commented on his announcement post. “Returned to the field my senior year as a hopping nose guard. I know the battle you are fighting. Keep your head up and your feet under you. Prayers for you in this fight.”
Henry was quick to reply with a thank you and an inspiring message of “I will fight!” And the 50-year-old survivor took the time to share another supportive Tweet.
“I know you will,” the user wrote. “I think football prepares us for these kind of fights. Those days we just wanted to walk away, but pushed through on the field will help you when there are days you don’t want to fight.”
What Is A Sarcoma?
The term sarcoma is used to describe an array of more than 70 rare cancers that begin in the bones and the soft tissues, such as muscles. This diverse group of diseases accounts for only about 1% of tumors in adults and just over 10% of tumors in children.
The main symptom of sarcomas is generally a slow-growing, painless mass, but symptoms can be hard to detect as soft tissue sarcomas are typically painless and bone sarcomas can be mistakenly diagnosed as orthopedic injuries.
“Unfortunately, most sarcomas do not cause many of the symptoms that may be associated with other cancers,” Dr. Dale Shepard, director of the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute Phase I and Sarcoma Programs, told SurvivorNet in a previous discussion. “A mass the size of a golf ball or larger and growing should be evaluated as a potential sarcoma. It’s important that patients who do have symptoms are not dismissive of them.”
Types of Sarcoma Cancers
The word sarcoma refers to a large array of bone and soft tissue cancers, and individual cancers within that set go by unique names. Some of the types of sarcomas include:
- Ewing’s sarcoma: a cancer that typically occurs in and around the bones, often in the arms or legs, or the bones of the pelvis. It most commonly occurs in children and young adults.
- Kaposi sarcoma: a very rare type of cancer that causes lesions on the skin, in lymph nodes, organs, and the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and throat. It typically affects people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV.
- Epithelioid sarcoma: a type of soft tissue cancer that grows slowly. It is likely to begin under the skin of areas like the finger, hand, forearm, lower part of the leg, or foot.
- Synovial sarcoma, also called malignant synovioma: a cancer that can form in the soft tissues such as muscle or ligaments, commonly close to joints or in areas like the arm, leg, or foot.
- Osteogenic sarcoma, also called osteosarcoma: the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones. This was the type of cancer Avery Henry had.
- Spindle cell sarcoma: a very rare disease, comprising as little as 2 percent of all primary bone cancer cases. It can start in the bone, often in the arms, legs, and pelvis, and usually occurs in people over 40.
- Angiosarcoma: a rare cancer that develops in the inner lining of blood vessels and lymph vessels. It can occur anywhere in the body but is most often found in the skin, breast, liver and spleen.
Finding Support During a Cancer Journey
During a cancer battle, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There’s a community out there for you to be vulnerable with, if you’d like, and connecting with people as you battle the disease can make a world of difference. Avery Henry may have a large sports community to lean on, but there are many other ways to find the support you need.
Kate Hervey is another cancer warrior who received support after sharing her cancer journey. A young college girl, she was shocked to be diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that tends to form near large joints in young adults, after seeing her doctor for tenderness and lumps in one of her legs.
Hervey, a nursing student at Michigan State, had to handle her cancer battle during the COVID-19 pandemic and scale back on her social activities as a high-risk patient. That’s when she turned to TikTok as a creative outlet, and inspired thousands.
“One thing that was nice about TikTok that I loved and why I started posting more and more videos is how many people I was able to meet through TikTok and social media that are going through the same things,” she says. “I still text with this one girl who is 22. If I’m having a hard time, I will text her because she will understand. As much as my family and friends are supportive, it’s hard to vent to someone who doesn’t know what it’s really like.”
Hervey is now cancer-free, and says she couldn’t have done it without the love and support of her TikTok followers.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on me through TikTok, which is crazy to say. I can help people go through what I’ve been going through as well.” She has graciously agreed to allow SurvivorNet to use her content in order to help our community.
So while sharing your story to a vast TikTok audience might not be your thing, it’s important to consider opening up to others during your cancer battle. Even if it’s with a smaller group, a therapist, family members or friends you never know how much the support can help you – or even help those you share with – unless you try.