Red Band Society Episode 1: A Sarcoma Patient's Perspective

red band society cancer dramaI was intrigued by "Red Band Society", a drama airing on Fox every Wednesday night at 9pm. I noticed one of the characters was a bald teenager with crutches.  "Ah, he must have osteosarcoma", I thought.  And I was right! 

Recently osteosarcoma seems to be in the spotlight in the media. One of the characters in the movie "A Fault in Our Stars", Gus, also has osteosarcoma.  I figure it may be because most osteosarcoma patients have their arm or leg amputated.  Drastic treatment = more distinctive in appearance and more emotion towards the character.

With these two shows highlighting osteosarcoma patients, it's nice that there is more awareness of sarcomas, but also a sad reminder that even in this day and age, amputation is the main way of getting rid of sarcoma.  Sarcomas travel along muscle planes, so if the tumor is found in one spot, it most likely has spread along the muscle.  Thus, at the moment, large surgeries to remove muscle, and sometimes bone, are the most proven method to treat sarcomas.  Radiation and current chemotherapy are not very effective against sarcomas.  Hopefully things will change very soon with the surge of cancer immunotherapy.

When my synovial sarcoma tumor came back in the jaw area, we went to see a head surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering.  He showed us a skull and said that with the nature of sarcomas, large areas need to be removed around the tumor.  In my situation, with a recurrent tumor next to the jaw bone, basically I needed to remove my whole head to completely get rid of the tumor.  It was quite hard to hear, but it was what we needed to hear.  We knew drastic measures needed to be taken. Eventually I had a large jaw surgery that removed my jaw joint, 1/4 of my jaw bone and surrounding muscles to remove a recurrent synovial sarcoma tumor that was adjacent to the jaw bone.  I followed it with a lot of cancer immunotherapy, and as of now, I've had 2.5 years of clean head scans.  Praise God!

Watching this show reminded me of the many experiences we (cancerwife + cancerhusband) had in the hospital, emotions and struggles that we faced in battling a life-threatening disease.  I appreciate how the show brings these "behind-the-scenes" to the general public, hopefully to help others to empathize with people going through major health issues.

Episode 1

red band society cancer drama

Jordi comes specifically to this hospital and pleads with Dr. McAndrew to be his doctor because he is the best.

Jordi's persistence reminded me of the long journey that we've taken to search for the best doctors.  There have also been times when these doctors didn't want to see me anymore, and we have had to explain ourselves and be persistent about why we value their guidance.  Thankfully they are all now part of the team that helps to keep me well and alive.

One of the pivotal moments in the first episode is up on the rooftop of the hospital.  Leo has collected many red bands over all his hospital stays.  He gives a red band with significance to each of his friends.

What are the red bands used for?  Red bands are put on a patient's wrist to note down what allergies they have.  Some hospitals are haphazard in noting down allergies on the red band, so I always verbally remind the nurses and doctors of my allergies.

 Watch Red Band Society Wednesday 8/9C Fox or online.