Jennifer Redding is one of the Sarcoma Alliance volunteers who helps manage our Facebook Group. She is holding an event in her hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas, on July 27. Here, Jennifer talks about how sarcoma has affected her life and why she is hosting this event.
Without my daughters, I don't think I could be as strong as some people think I am. I say that because those of us with sarcoma know the feelings of day to day combat. We're in the trenches so to speak. Brittany (28) and Emily (23) are the reasons I fight! I also have Jon, Emily's wonderful husband.
I had a lump on my left thigh but I let it go for 6 long years. Why? Don't laugh but I had bought a stick shift and thought the muscle had built up in that leg. I know, but I am not known for my common sense! I didn't feel so bad when I read that a man thought his muscle had built up because he was working out. When I began having excruciating pain, I went to my family physician, and he at first thought I had cellulitis and gave me a round of antibiotics. When the pain came back, he said that it wasn't cellulitis and sent me off for a CT scan. I was diagnosed in March 2012 with sarcoma in my left thigh. I had surgery on April 15 that same year. Dr. Nicholas, my surgical oncologist, said the tumor was the size of a head! I recovered with two more surgeries on my leg. Then I had mets to my left lung in March of 2013, Surgery took care of those. Now we are watching nodules in my right lung, and I have micro fractures in my left femur due to radiation.
I couldn't find much information on sarcoma. I called the American Cancer Society, but they sent me the same information that I had found on the internet myself! I finally found Sarcoma Alliance and felt so welcome that I have stayed ever since. I was asked to be an admin for the support page, and I remember telling Christine Darling that it would be an honor. I find the support and information invaluable.
I decided I wanted to give back to SA for always being there, and I have met so many wonderful friends and fellow warriors that it just seems the right thing to do. So I have planned a fundraiser. Because we want July to be Sarcoma Awareness Month, I planned the event for July 27, 2014. It is from 12-5 at Fat Jacks Oyster Sports Bar and Grill in Hot Springs, Arkansas. There is a $5 cover charge at the door, and there will be live music, a raffle (prizes including a spa day from one of our famous bath houses and even from a local tattoo parlor!), and plenty of food!
When the movie "The Fault in Our Stars" came out in theaters, it gave me the perfect opportunity to gain awareness so I called our local paper and pitched my story. They were interested, and now I am waiting for the call back for the time of the interview! I have even called local TV networks! My two daughters and I will be hitting the pavement with fliers for Historical Downtown Hot Springs! If you can, y'all come on out!
I recommend starting at least 3 months ahead to plan an event. Sooner if you want to contact businesses such as Disney for prizes. That is something I have learned, and I plan on making this an annual event so I will be starting soon after this one is over. It's hard work but when I think that $500.00 will give someone a second opinion, it's a no-brainer--I'll do it!
To learn more about how you can host an independent event to benefit Sarcoma Alliance, please visit our website. We are grateful to the many people each year who volunteer their time, talents, and efforts to further our mission of improving the lives of those affected by sarcoma.