My name is Emily Von Dollen and I am 17 years old. In January 2010 I was diagnosed with the rare synovial sarcoma tumor in the palm of my right hand. I had seen an orthopedic doctor two years earlier about tendonitis from tennis in my joints. Then he said it was a cyst a year and a half later it was removed. After the biopsy we were told it wasnt a cyst. Luckily, with my dad being a cardiologist and knowing all the medicine the area we were able to research UCLA to get proper treatment. They were all over it and within a month, February 2, my hand and the cancer was gone. Because of the orthopedic doctors mistake it cost me my dominant hand. I was forced to become left handed in a month.
That’s the sad part of my story but because of this cancer it has added so much knowledge to my life and the people around me. Yes, I did mourn my hand for a month or so but life goes on. My school, youth group, 4-H, and every other club I was apart of came together to stand by my side. More good has come out of my experience than bad. Ive educated the young members in 4-H, my friends and school about prosthetics and cancer. Ive also chosen a career and college that supports my engineering degree to go into prosthetic design. Because I am well known in my community, this cancer has shaken everyone around me in knowledge. For the relay for life, my youth group chose the sarcoma tumor to have as our team cancer. We were titled Hike That Mountain! inspired off of my friends and my backpacking trip up half dome with my left hand and hook prosthetic. I also still took my replacement heifer to fair through 4-H. My view on my life is, dont look at what you cant do, look at everything you can!
For myself I entered a beauty pageant called The Miss California Mid-State Fair Pageant with 13 other girls. The hardest part about losing my hand was piano. I’ve been an avid piano player for 12 years and been happily playing Schubert and Chopin, though I cant anymore. For my talent though, I re-taught myself to play with my hook and left hand. I won top three and was plastered all over the California Mid State Fair. My platform was based off of your website and titled Sunflowers for Sarcomas which was a fundraiser and raised awareness about the sarcoma tumor. I not only proved to myself but I inspired lives everywhere that even though you may go through great loss and may feel malformed, you can still be beautiful and amazing. Ive also inspired young girls to have confidence while being the face of the Mid State Fair. I proved to them that you are still fantastic no matter what! Ive even continued playing tennis with my left hand, anything is possible.
But, through it all, when I found the Sarcoma Alliance website back in February I was overjoyed and so happy that someone was there and knew exactly what was up. So, thank you. Youve made a difference to me and because of you, Im spreading education about this cancer everywhere I go, from facebook to my high school and soon to college. So please know that I love contributing to your organization and publicizing the sarcoma tumor. I have sent you a check given to me by a guy that heard my story and wanted to support me, I figured this was the best way he could.
Keep being amazing and I’ll keep spreading knowledge! I’ve been cancer free for 7 months and the lung scans keep coming back negative. I’d love to stay in touch with Sarcoma Alliance.
Thank you! Lets keep fighting to find a cure!