Hi! My name is Brooke Young, I’m 13 years old, and I beat cancer. When I was 11 years old I discovered a tiny lump on the torso of my body. I didn’t think much of it, until one day I was playing soccer and had a collision with another player at practice. Their elbow hit this lump which was incredibly painful. I told my parents about it, saw my pediatrician, and he said it’s probably just a fatty cyst and no big deal. However, he told me I should have it removed and biopsied, just in case. Fast forward a bit and a plastic surgeon removed the cyst; a few days later I was told it was a cancerous tumor! It was kind of shocking to hear.
I was told I had Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans “DFSP.” It is an extremely rare type of cancer, a soft tissue sarcoma that develops in the deep layers of the skin. It is sometimes described as having tentacles that can grow into surrounding fat, muscle and even bone. It’s extremely important to catch this slow growing tumor early, before it reaches bone because then it would be really bad. Surgery and removal of the tumor and the surrounding area was my only option.
Turns out my parents had a difficult time finding a “Mohs” surgeon, experienced with this type of cancer, and willing to do the surgery on me, since I was only 11 years old. There are definite advantages to doing Mohs surgery and not a general excision. With the Mohs surgery the doctor can guarantee the removal of the tumor, it’s “legs” and test the margins to see if it’s clear as you lie on the operating table. Once all of your margins are clear they then send a sample to another lab to confirm it, just in case. With a traditional excision, the doctor isn’t sure if they removed all of it during surgery, so you may have to repeat the surgery multiple times.
My surgery was in October of 2012 and I have been cancer free for 2 years now. I’ll have regular check ups for the rest of my life, but they’re confident it won’t grow again. I have to admit, I think about it a lot and I pray that it won’t return. I’m forever grateful to my family, friends, and the doctors who took care of me.
The reason I wanted to share my story is to remind kids to be aware of your body. If you notice something has changed, you have to tell your parents and your doctor. Cancer strikes all kinds of people, it doesn’t matter your age. Check yourself!! Cancer is scary, but it can be beat!