In June of 2011, Sopheathought he'd strained his groin after a strenuous workout. But he didn't give it much thought, because he had other things on his mind - like his chemistry final at OSU. By the fall of that year, what he originally assumed to be a strain had grown into a concerning lump in his leg. He made an appointment with the student health center to get it checked out. The nurse thought it might be a blood clot, and sent him to the ER for an ultrasound. After a long day of testing and referrals,Sophea was sent to OHSU for a biopsy. "That was scary, but Dr. Hayden was great," Sophea said. In November of 2011 he learned that he was battling synovial sarcoma.
Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery followed his diagnosis. "You should see the scar from my first surgery - the cavity left by the tumor was so large they had to take muscle from my abdomen to fill it." The scar Sophea mentions runs from the middle of his abdomen to the middle of his leg. More surgery, chemo and radiation followed, and in June 2012, nearly a year after he first noticed a problem, Sophea was wrapping up his treatment. Unfortunately, in April 2013 a scan showed a growth in his chest; and Sophea has just recently completed his ninth round of in-patient chemo for a tumor the size of a football on the bottom of his right lung. "Today I have stage 4 synovial sarcoma."
When asked why someone should support Northwest Sarcoma Foundation, Sopheaaptly notes, "Today most research money is put into common cancers, like breast cancer. Someone diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer has a chance at survival because research has developed effective treatments. The same is not true for synovial sarcoma. What doctors are doing today to treat sarcoma is a crapshoot - they just don't know what will work and what won't. Research is needed to change that."