Annamarie Robb, mother of Sam Robb and founder of CURE Childhood Cancer’s Sam Robb Fund, reflects on her son’s diagnosis in the following letter.
Ten years ago…
Sam’s original chemotherapy treatments in the first three months appeared to be effective. A routine x-ray revealed the bone cancer was advancing; hence, surgery was moved up to January. Sam’s case was taking a different turn. The surgery was very successful. Our surgeon, Dr. George Cierny was very pleased; he preserved Sam’s muscle function with our hopes of pitching for baseball. We were hopeful!
We remember the day in February as it was yesterday: A cloudy rainy winter day, we had a follow-up appointment with Sam’s oncologist, Dr. Brad George, to review the pathology report from surgery with the necrosis rate. The necrosis rate is a measure of effectiveness of the chemotherapy. We did not know what to expect. The reality was that Sam’s necrosis rate was not good, far below the desired 90% or greater.
As a family, we were confronted with an unexpected decision to make. Should we stay the course in chemotherapy or try a new treatment plan? In 2003, the osteosarcoma research was minimal. Dr. George consulted the leading osteosarcoma researcher to consider alternative treatment options. The end result was that chemotherapy was extended 3 months so Sam’s treatment plan would be more aggressive. Our family remained hopeful given the revised chemotherapy treatment plan. Sam led the way in being optimistic.
Today, as a family, we appreciate the time we had with Sam after his extended treatments, 3 ¾ great years full of living life and we do not look back. Treatment setbacks are hard, and it is important for families to maintain hope. We are thankful CURE understands the importance of osteosarcoma research with their support of Dr. Katzenstien and Dr. Kleinerman’s research initiatives. Thank you for your support of all our efforts in Sam’s memory to provide hope to other families so our journey will not be forgotten.