New Jersey teen overcomes rare cancer

December 3, 2010 4:00:04 AM PST
Sarah Decker always looks on the bright side.

"People tell me I'm so mature, but I say I'm just like you I'm the same just a little different," she said.

The 10th grader believes that helped her survive a rare cancer that should have cost her life.

"It's upsetting, but it's my life now so just kind of go with it," she said.

Eight months ago, doctors broke the news to Sarah and her mother, Rita, that Sarah has alveolar soft part sarcoma of the bone.

Alveolar soft part sarcoma is a slow-growing tumor that usually arises in the thigh or legs. According to the American Cancer Society, while sarcomas comprise about 1 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers, and 15 percent of all childhood cancers, ASPS comprises less than 1percent of sarcomas.

Alveolar soft part sarcoma of the bone is even more rare. The Emmanuel Cancer Foundation says Becker is the 12th person in the world to get this type of cancer.

Doctors discovered it by chance.

"I told my mom my leg is killing me. She said, 'Don't worry, it's cheerleading.' I was like it's not cheerleading," she said.

If doctors found it any later, they would have had to amputate her leg from the knee down.

Instead, the 15-year-old had knee replacement surgery where doctors placed a metal rod in her leg.

She's missed months of school, and the bills are piling up.

Her medicine alone is $10,000 a month. For now, the pharmaceutical company is picking up the tab.

"I'm more worried about next year with all the new deductibles. The bills are very high, but I do the best that I can with them. It's the what ifs. I don't know what's coming," Rita Decker said.

The Deckers combat tears with laughs because they appreciate what most take for granted. Tomorrow is not promised.

If you would like to donate, please send checks or money orders payable to Sarah Decker:

Sarah Decker
PO Box 153
Newton, NJ 07860

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