Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma — not only had I never heard of it, but neither had my four-year-old granddaughter Carly’s pediatrician, nor her neurosurgeon who had removed this cancerous tumor from her spine. I went to my computer. After all, this was 2002 and everything could be found on the Internet – everything, except mesenchymal chondrosarcoma.
One day I found an online article written by a woman named Elizabeth Munroz who was a 30-year survivor of chondrosarcoma. I sent her an e-mail, and my life was changed forever. Elizabeth had started a support group for chondrosarcoma. In its fledgling state, she had some 40 members. In 5 years’ time, her group would number over 400.
Elizabeth is one of those rare people who never stops learning or teaching. Her cancer was treated at a time when there was no proton beam radiation, targeted therapies, support groups, and no Internet! Under Elizabeth’s guidance, I learned to research. She introduced me to other sarcoma support groups such as those found in ACOR and Yahoo Health. With this connection, I met Rose Burt, Bruce and Beverly Shriver, pioneers in sarcoma support and awareness.
Elizabeth is my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. She is a woman way ahead of her time. I had the good fortune of meeting her during a Team Sarcoma event in Vermont. We fell into each others’ arms, laughing, and crying. She was meeting a friend from the sarcoma groups, and I was meeting the woman who saved my sanity: the woman who made sense in a senseless world; the woman who, despite daily pain, gets on her computer everyday offering encouragement and hope; the woman who every family should meet when starting on this terrible journey. This woman is my dear, Elizabeth Munroz.
This Team Sarcoma Everyday Heroes entry was submitted by MiMi Olsson.