Life after rare, invasive cancer

“The cancer had to be stopped,” he said. “Hopefully, I won.”

When you speak with Danny Spayd, you can’t help but be moved by his attitude and fighting spirit. Spayd lost his left arm in May 2012 after what was thought to be a cyst on his wrist was diagnosed as synovial sarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer. His physicians gave him two treatment options: amputation from the mid-forearm or a complex process of surgical removal of the cancer, reconstruction and radiation therapy.

After consulting with his physicians, Spayd decided on amputation in hopes of stopping the cancer in its tracks. While the surgery could not guarantee the cancer wouldn’t return, Spayd was betting on his chances.

“The cancer had to be stopped,” he said. “Hopefully, I won.”

Synovial sarcoma usually occurs near the joints, including the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist and foot. According to Spayd’s surgeon, Shawn L. Price, M.D., orthopaedic oncologist, synovial sarcoma is a rare cancer, affecting one to three people per million.

“There are no specific warning signs,” Dr. Price said. “The cancer may present as an enlarging mass, sometimes accompanied by pain.”

Spayd said his cancer came out of the blue. He was busy with two jobs — operating two printing presses — and was leading a normal, happy life when he got the diagnosis.

“It was devastating. It was hard to live 54 years with two hands and then imagine a life with just one,” Spayd said.

However, he never let his diagnosis break his spirit and maintains that his attitude has helped carry him through the worst of his ordeal with cancer.

“Attitude is everything. You have to believe you will come out on the other side,” Spayd said. “I never let it get me down. It was just a new way of life; a new way of living.”

Treatment depends on several variables, including the type of sarcoma, the tumor’s aggressiveness and the stage of the disease. Dr. Price said most soft tissue sarcomas are treated with surgery and radiation.

“I’m still adjusting every day,” Spayd said. “But I’m getting good at doing laundry and the dishes now, which my wife appreciates.”


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