Northside Hospital - Surviving sarcoma a day at a time

Surviving sarcoma a day at a time

Posted on: August 12, 2019


When Jonathan (Beau) Garrett was 26 years old, he noticed a small bump on his upper right leg. Having never faced significant health issues before, he didn’t think much of it and ignored the spot, letting it go unnoticed for ten years.

One day in September 2016 Beau moved his leg and made a small cut on this bump. Over the next two months it never healed, and soon got worse to the point that it would not stop bleeding. In December, Beau visited his local ER to have the cut examined. His doctor recommended a biopsy and follow up appointment at Northside Hospital Atlanta. On Beau’s first visit to Northside Hospital Atlanta, he received a CT and MRI scan that confirmed he had a tumor on his leg.

In a January 2017 follow up, Beau met with Dr. Gina D’Amato, a sarcoma specialist at Northside Hospital. While waiting on the biopsy results, she confirmed the tumor was contained and had not spread beyond his leg. Dr. D’Amato also introduced Beau to who would become his medical team for the next eight months: Dr. Farzad Nahai, plastic surgeon, and Dr. Scott Davidson, sarcoma specialist.

In February, Beau was diagnosed with malignant peripheral sheath sarcoma, a rare type of sarcoma that occurs in the spinal cord and often extends to the tissue of the arms and legs. He started chemotherapy within the week.

Working full time as a teacher and coach at a local high school in Butts County, Beau waited to tell his colleagues about the diagnosis until his last day at work. As a private person, he hoped to limit possible stress on his students and fellow teachers.

Beau underwent six rounds of chemo in June, once a week for three weeks at Northside. In July, he began radiation treatment, this time visiting the hospital once a day.

Beau rested throughout August, preparing for the final step of treatment – surgery. He went to Northside Hospital Atlanta for surgery on September 5th. Doctors Nahai and Davidson removed the sarcoma as well as a football-shaped area of his stomach to fill in the space on his leg.

After spending a week in the hospital, Beau was sent home for two weeks of bedrest. He continued recovery with tri-monthly CT scans. He will move to a six-month CT and annual MRI cycle in September 2019. With each visit back to Northside, Beau goes back to say hello to the nurses on his old hospital floor.

Beau credits the success of his health journey to the work of Northside staff. While in the hospital, he would talk with the physicians and nurses constantly, walking the halls and playing video games with them when they finished their shifts.

The staff made the experience go so well for me. All the nurses and doctors there, they were great,” Beau said.

Looking back, if he could tell his past self one thing it would be to live in the moment.

Take it one day at a time. Worrying about stuff isn’t going to help anything,” Beau said. “So, you might as well do what you are told by the doctors and nurses and try to make the best of it.”

*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.

Filed under: Cancer, Patient Stories,


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