Trina Munday wears the effects of cancer on her face every time she leaves her house.
The 48-year-old teacher finds herself explaining to strangers almost everyday why she is wearing an eye patch over her left eye.
And on Sunday, Munday will be telling her story to another group of strangers at the start of the Terry Fox Run at Pitt Meadows Spirit Square.
“I’ve become the walking poster face for cancer,” said Munday who was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma seven years ago.
And her cancer is rare. Munday says that three per cent of all cancers are sarcomas. There are two main types of sarcomas: soft tissue sarcoma, Munday’s cancer, and bone sarcoma, or osteosarcoma, the type of cancer Terry Fox was diagnosed with.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, soft tissue sarcoma is a cancerous or malignant tumour that starts in the soft tissues of the body, which include fat, muscle, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves. It can grow into nearby tissue and destroy it and also spread to other parts of the body.
There are more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcoma.
Synovial sarcoma most often starts in the tissue around the joints of the knee or ankle. It can also start in the hip or shoulder. Although they are named synovial sarcomas, these tumours don’t start in the tissue that line the joints, the synovial tissue, they can be found in areas of the body not around synovial tissue, such as the head and neck area.
Munday’s cancer was discovered in her left sinus cavity above her eye.
When she researched the cancer, she could only find one other person in the world with the same type of cancer she had, but in her head.
Before Munday was diagnosed, she said, she was the picture of health.
“I didn’t smoke, I rarely drank, I ate organic food and I exercised every day,” she said.
“Sometimes cancer just happens,” added Munday.
And this wasn’t her first battle with the disease. Three year prior to her diagnosis in 2012, her husband passed away from lung cancer. Her father, who is still alive, has battled the disease 10 times. He had oral cancer and has lost all his teeth and his gums to the disease. He is now on a strictly liquid diet.
Munday says that when she entered her 40s she was in a really dark place.
Following her own diagnosis she had to have 25 rounds of radiation, five days a week, for five weeks. She still suffer from the ill-effects of the radiation. Her sinus cavities, throat and one eye are dry all the time.
“During the night, it wakes me up, I have to get up and put drops in my eye,” she said.
Even her ears are dry. Doctors have also told her that she will probably have to have cataract surgery on her one eye, one day because of the radiation.
“That’s a little bit scary when you only have one eye,” said Munday.
There were also complications from surgery causing her to have a brain fluid leak and put her chemotherapy on hold.
Munday has been cancer free for the the past seven years but she still goes for yearly checkups where she gets chest X-rays to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread to her lungs and also gets MRIs of her head.
She has also lost her sense of smell to the disease.
“It’s amazing how much people talk about smells. People talk about smells all the time and you don’t notice until you don’t have the smell any more,” she said.
Munday is looking forward to sharing her story at the run on Sunday. She says attending the run gives her hope.
“When I get up and talk and share my story, it’s not easy to talk about,” said Munday.
“It’s totally beyond your control. You can’t think away cancer. But when I go and do this or talk at a school, it gives me a little bit of power back.”
The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Terry Fox Run takes place Sunday, Sept. 15 at Pitt Meadows Spirit Square, 11985 Harris Road.
Registration is at 7 a.m., run start is at 10 a.m. and is suitable for bicycles, wheelchairs and Rollerblades.
Dogs on leash are welcome.
For more information go to terryfox.ca.