Pain in Shari's right leg plagued her in January 1997. A 10-year-old gymnast, Shari thought it was merely a sports-related injury until the pain kept her awake at night. A trip to her family physician, followed by an MRI by an orthopedist revealed a tumor on her right hipbone. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma and soon began her personal journey in battling cancer at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
The next 11 months were spent in chemotherapy, with six weeks of daily radiation. She opted not to have the tumor removed because she would lose the use of her right leg. In August 1997, she underwent a three-day procedure in which stem cells from her blood were harvested, filtered and frozen for future use. Four days after Christmas that year, she endured eight days of very high-dose chemotherapy, followed by a transplant of her previously harvested stem cells. Twenty-six days later, after her white blood cell counts returned to an acceptable level, she was released from the hospital.
In addition to an effective treatment regimen, Shari also had a strong support system during her treatment. "The nurses and doctors at the hospital were one big family," she says. "Everyone knows you."
In order to keep up with her classmates, Shari was home schooled by middle school teachers. Her friends were also supportive during her treatment, which enabled her to beat her cancer.
Sharihas been cancer-free since late 1997. She is attending nursing school and plans to work in either emergency medicine or as an oncology nurse.
While Shari is looking ahead to a bright future, she still lives with long-term effects of her victorious battle against cancer. Radiation treatments resulted in lung complications, such as shortness of breath. She also requires yearly check ups and growth hormones.
Shari hasn't let her health issues affect her social life. In fact, she loves playing tennis, rock climbing, relaxing and spending time with her friends.