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Strike Out Sarcoma: Shuler battles cancer

Dave Williams/Maxxum Photography

Dave Williams/Maxxum Photography

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“You have cancer” are three words that no person ever wants to hear, but three words that are heard all too often.

In one year alone, approximately 1,658,370 people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer. With such a large amount of people being diagnosed with this disease, it is common to know someone that has had or does currently have cancer. But knowing someone who has the disease is far different than being diagnosed. Being diagnosed with cancer creates a pain some may never experience their whole life.

Senior Mallory Shuler was diagnosed with myxoid liposarcoma towards the end of November 2016 after she found a golfball sized lump on her hip earlier that September.

“At the beginning of September, I was putting a swimsuit on and as I put on the bottoms I noticed a lump on my right hip,” Shuler said. “I told my parents about it and they scheduled an appointment with my doctor to get it checked out.”

Shuler felt as though she had nothing to worry about since the lump was not painful. Her doctor believed it was a lipoma, a benign fatty tissue growth that is very common, but wanted to get a sonogram just to be sure. The sonogram results were examined by a doctor and surgeon and it was agreed that it looked like a lipoma. However, worries were still minimal because many people have lipomas their whole life without having to get them removed since they cause no harm.

Although there was little worry, Shuler’s doctors and surgeons agreed that the lump had funky characteristics and that it should be removed since it stuck out of her hip quite a bit.

“I waited until my fall softball season was over to have it removed and once my surgery was over, there was nothing to worry about,” Shuler said. “When I went in for my checkup with my surgeon he told me that they had to send the lump to get looked at in another lab to rule out the diagnosis of myxoid liposarcoma.”

Shuler’s doctor was about 98 percent sure it was not cancer but due to the characteristics of the lump, they sent it to the lab anyway. A week later her parents received a phone call informing them that the lump was cancerous.

The diagnosis has also made us more aware of the struggles of others and how we might help those less fortunate than us”

— Mallory's father Wade Shuler

“The diagnosis of cancer has changed our lives in many ways.  We have re-prioritized the things that are most important to us,” Mallory’s father Wade Shuler said. “Our faith in family, God and our friends has become stronger.  The diagnosis has also made us more aware of the struggles of others and how we might help those less fortunate than us.”

Mallory has been receiving treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. Her treatment plan was to receive 25 rounds of radiation which she finished Feb. 21. During radiation, she had treatments Monday through Friday and came home on the weekends. She now has to wait for her skin to heal in order to have surgery. Her surgery is scheduled for April 6 and recovery will take four to six weeks.

“When my surgery is over, they believe I will be cancer-free,” Mallory said. “Post-surgery I will have lots of checkups and scans to keep a close eye on my body to make sure I don’t have any further complications. These checkups and scans will continue for the next 10 years as long as everything goes smoothly.”

Her boyfriend, senior Chandler Rogers, and his mother supported Mallory and were helpful in making the weeks go better for Mallory and her mother while they were in Houston.

“While she was in Houston my mother and I would send her care packages every week with little goodies and different knick-knacks for her and her mom,” Rogers said. “ It was something to help the week go by a little better.”

Although Mallory’s health was the main concern after her initial diagnosis there have been several other parts of her journey that have been hard. For her, not being able to play school softball has been one of the hardest parts following her diagnosis.

“One thing that has really sucked about my situation is not being able to participate in softball. I missed the whole preseason and will miss almost the entire season itself,” Mallory said. “I will be in town for one double-header before my surgery and I probably won’t be able play because my body is recovering from radiation during these few weeks of practice before the season starts.”

For Mallory, being able to play on the school team is pretty much up in the air at this point. Depending on how her surgery goes and her response to the healing process will determine if she will play at the end of the season or not. As things are right now, she will be lucky to play in the State tournament.

“While this is definitely not how I envisioned my senior season going, the softball team and coaches have been so supportive of me,” Mallory said.

Mallory also committed to play softball at Baker University next year and will still be able to do that, as well as play on her summer team.

Although Mallory’s life has been changing quite a bit in the past few months she hopes it will not continue to impact her life once she moves past this.

One positive thing I have gained is being so grateful for the life I have, and even the diagnosis I have”

— Senior Mallory Shuler

“I don’t necessarily want this experience to change my life but I know that in some aspects, it will. One positive thing I have gained is being so grateful for the life I have, and even the diagnosis I have,” Mallory said. Some of the people I saw in the cancer center were so sick that I felt out of place. It was almost as if I felt guilty for how healthy and lucky I was to not have a diagnosis like they had.”

As people close to Mallory and even those who are not close with her watch her battle this disease it is hard not to be proud of the young woman and fighter she is.

“Throughout this whole ordeal I think the thing I am most proud of Mallory for is her is being so positive,” Rogers said. “When she was first diagnosed, almost everyone around her, including myself, was very scared and worried, but she would always encourage everyone that she was going to be fine and she has never let her diagnosis bring her down. She is an incredibly brave individual and has been the strongest out of everyone and for that I have an immense amount of respect for her.”

I have become more positive and more grateful for everyone around me since I was diagnosed”

— Senior Mallory Shuler

Mallory has learned many things since she was diagnosed with cancer and has been supported by many people who have made her journey easier. Her family, friends, softball teams, teachers, and those she does hardly knows have all been so supportive of her and made her senior year as normal and enjoyable as possible.

“My life has truly not changed in a negative way since my diagnosis. If anything, I have become more positive and more grateful for everyone around me since I was diagnosed,” Mallory said.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Strike Out Sarcoma: Shuler battles cancer”

  1. Mary Lou Bowen, retired Blue Streak advisor on March 23rd, 2017 8:28 pm

    This is a well done article, touching closely the battle of not only Mallory and her family, but those of close friends and peers. It also shows depth and is backed by research. Compliments to the writer.

    [Reply]

  2. Shawna Luehring - Sarcoma Survivor on April 3rd, 2017 12:07 pm

    Great article! Wonderful support for Mallory and for the awareness of Sarcoma … a growing type of cancer that often gets overlooked. So glad to see that Mallory is staying positive and has an amazing support system. I know, from personal experience, that getting through radiation and surgery will be a big relief for her (and those close to her). She’ll come out of this stronger and with a new view on life. AND she’ll be back to playing softball soon. 🙂 My thoughts are with you, this week, Mallory!

    [Reply]

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Strike Out Sarcoma: Shuler battles cancer