Cancer; just a six letter word, yet for anyone that has been around it or experienced it for themselves, makes a person cringe. My name is Alexandria Yonkman, I am only 23 and the mother to three beautiful children; Tristan is one, Ariana is two, and RaeLynn is six. I am also the girlfriend to an amazing man, Arjay, that is also the father to our children! And for almost the last year I have been battling cancer, and on March 7, 2017 I made the step to make myself cancer free and in remission! But before I get to that I will tell you a little bit about my journey.
My knee problems all started back in 2012, I had some odd clicking and grinding that I went to an orthopedic surgeon to begin to find out why. This is when I underwent my first knee surgery; he was going into my knee to find out what what going on, as all my scans came back normal. He went in laparoscopically and cleaned up some scar tissues and took some tissue samples that came back as normal. After this I began physical therapy for multiple months, but with no progress or answers we decided to stop this. After that my knee was not getting worse so I went on with my life of college and work for a couple years without much more problems than slight tightening and clicking in my knee.
After this my boyfriend, Arjay, and I found out we were pregnant, but at 16 weeks we had a miscarriage, after that we decided we were going to try for a baby. On December 1, 2014 Ariana Grace was born to us and she was absolutely perfect! Just a short 4 months later when we were going in the doctors we found out I was indeed pregnant again! So on January 8, 2016 Tristan William graced us with his presence! During my pregnancy with Tristan my knee started tightening to the point at 6 months pregnant it was completely locked out at a 45 degree angle and would not move at all!! This told me I needed a new doctor!
I then began seeing my new orthopedic surgeon in Cadillac and he did scans that also came back as normal with some slight swelling. After this we decided to do a muscle manipulation under anesthesia, where they would force my leg straight and put it in a brace. I had this surgery on March 11, 2016 and two weeks later started physical therapy at Bella Rose to try and get motion back into my leg. We made a little progress but not enough so I went back to my surgeon and he decided to do another muscle manipulation, but this time to bend and straighten my leg and start physical therapy immediately. So on July 12, 2016 I had my third surgery on my knee and I started therapy the very next day. The next two weeks I had therapy 6 times and every time it was excruciating pain. Then at my post op appointment on July 28, 2016 I found out during the previous surgery my femur was broken and I had been doing physical therapy on a broken leg. The next day I went to traverse city and a surgeon there put a plate and 9 screws into my femur; he also took a tissue sample to see if that said anything as to why my leg was locked out. A week later, on September 6, 2016, I got a phone call followed by paperwork explaining the pathology came back as stage 3 monophasic synovial sarcoma, or cancer!
I was referred down the Ann Arbor to the University of Michigan Cancer Center for treatment. Here I learned that my cancer was very rare and at this stage very aggressive. Within two week the cancer had reached my lungs as well so I was to start chemotherapy as soon as possible. I started a chemo treatment of 3 days of chemo every 21 days for 6 rounds. Throughout this I was very sick, I lost almost 70 pounds, and became very weak and unable to do things that people take for granted everyday.
After my last chemo treatment on January 6, 2017 I had scans done. These scans showed that I had three knew nodules on my lungs and it had decreased in my leg. I had my lung surgery on February 9, 2017 to remove the nodules off my lungs and send them in for biopsy. The nodules came back as benign, which meant my lungs were cancer free! It was now time to focus on my leg.
After a couple doctors appointments, I was given the decision to go through more chemo and radiation to try and get the tumors small enough to be removed and a knee replacement type surgery done to my leg to save my leg, but this option had a 70% chance or higher or reoccurrence of the cancer. My other option was to do an above the knee amputation. After talking to family I thought I was going to do the knee replacement type surgery and fight it for longer, but after talking more with my surgeon
I made the decision that the amputation was my best option it would mean the cancer was gone from my body.
On March 7, 2017 I had my above the knee amputation surgery. I am now healing from that surgery. I have about two months of healing at home and rehab at physical therapy. I will then hopefully be able to start the fitting process for my prosthetic leg and the rehab that goes along with that. The hope is by next year this time I am able to walk normally with my prosthetic leg and start getting back into more of a normal life like before cancer interrupted it.
Today I am happy that I am on the right track to feeling more like myself but I also know I have a long haul ahead of me. This journey has been one that has taught me many things along the way and will continue to as I go but the biggest one is Have Faith.