Looking on the Bright Side
- Recent University of South Alabama graduate Anna Richard, 22, just embarked on her English-teaching career and then noticed some strange “pins and needles” symptoms, which she chalked up to wearing high heels.
- When her pain then radiated to her back, she went to the hospital. It was Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, which affects less than 1,000 people each year in the States. With Anna’s glass-half-full attitude, she felt grateful that it was on her spine, which made for a quicker diagnosis.
- Treatment for Ewing sarcoma depends on the location of the cancer and the size of the mass. A doctor’s course of action may involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
“I started having these tingly feelings in my feet and numbness in my toes,” she told News 19, her local outlet. “I thought it was from my heels. I thought my toes were being numb from my heels being tingly, so I ignored it.”Read More
It wasn’t until she was on vacation with her family that her back pain escalated, which prompted her to go to the hospital. “We were at the beach and it just got worse and worse,” she said. “I really just struggled to walk.”
Doctors unfortunately found a tumor on her spine. It was Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, which affects less than 1,000 people each year in the States. Less than six percent of those cases affect the spine, so Anna’s diagnosis was even more rare.
With her glass-half-full attitude, she quickly recognized her good fortune that she did have it on her spine, as she was able to find out more quickly what she was dealing with.
It’s crazy because I say thank God it fractured my spine” she shared, as the tumor was wrapped around her spinal cord. “Because if it would not have started in my spine, and fractured my spine, it could have been spread throughout my whole body.”
Currently undergoing chemotherapy, Anna aims to be back teaching students in her 8th grade English classroom next fall.
Despite the curveball that she’s been thrown, again, the courageous cancer warrior chooses positivity.
“I feel like going through something so horrible, it’ll just make me so happy afterward just being done. For whatever reason, I have to go through this, but I think something good will come out of it.”
Learning More About Ewing Sarcoma
Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or soft tissue. In Hackett’s case, it was at the base of his spine.
It is common in adolescents, but younger children and adults (in their 20s and 30s) can also be diagnosed with this disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs and symptoms of Ewing sarcoma include:
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness near the affected area
- Bone pain
- Unexplained tiredness
- Fever with no known cause
- Sudden weight loss
Treatment for Ewing sarcoma depends on the location of the cancer and the size of the mass. A doctor’s course of action may involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Sometimes the aggressive nature of these treatments can cause both short-term and long-term side effects.
With Anna’s optimistic spirit, she will most likely be able to handle any repercussions she faces down the road, and look on the bright side of it, which is a lesson to us all.