At the age of nine Justine Freeman was diagnosed with stage IV Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare but serious and fast progressing bone cancer. She received her cancer treatment at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health and Science University and some follow-up care at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She spent almost two years of her childhood undergoing chemotherapy and surgeries to battle the stubborn cancer that produced a grapefruit-sized tumor in her pelvic area that metastasized to her lungs. Now 18, with her cancer in remission for nearly eight years, Justine expresses a renewed appreciation for life.
“If it was not for my aunt establishing a strong relationship with me and taking time away from her family and work obligations to visit me during my treatment and throughout being in foster care, I truly believe that I would not have held onto my life any longer. Now every aspect in my life never seems as challenging, because my renewed appreciation for life originated from my struggle for survival.”
Justine has long since completed her cancer therapy but she is left with several long-term effects as result of her treatment. One of the her most challenging issues is the chronic lower back pain she experiences as a result of surgeries to remove her tumor and infected lower tail bone. After her evaluation in the survivorship clinic at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, she was referred to an acupuncturist and other specialists to help her manage pain.
As part of her comprehensive assessment through the survivorship program, Justine also met with a nutritionist and a social worker. The entire survivorship clinic team worked together to address Justine’s physical symptoms and her emotional, spiritual and financial concerns.