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Cancer's Common Ground

June 3, 2010, 6:10 PM by Kelli Grant

Cancer's Common Ground
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Being told you have cancer and understanding every treatment you'll need to beat it is tough, especially if you're a child.

But explaining how things like chemotherapy work and why it's ok to be scared has become one young woman's job, all while fighting her own battle with cancer.

Sara Javers is a Child Life Specialist at Sanford Children's Hospital. She's convinced she has the best job in the world: helping sick kids and their sisters and brothers cope.  All the while coping with her own illness.

“As much as I can, I try to really make them know that I understand what they're going through,” Javers said.

And she truly does. Last August, Javers had surgery to have a cyst the size of a grapefruit removed off her right ovary. But a 30 minute operation turned into two hours.

“When they went in, they found all the little implants in my abdominal and pelvic cavity,” Javers said.

At just 24-years-old, Javers was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix.

“It started in the appendix and it leaked out and kind of implanted itself throughout my lower cavity,” Javers said.

It's very rare and it's Stage four.

“Survival rate is about 15 percent for five years,” Javers said.

But her doctor is confident she'll beat it. And she's surviving thanks to moments with younger cancer patients.

“I think that's one reason I'm able to deal with it so well is because I worked with children with cancer and I saw how well a lot of them came through it and how much joy they had even going through some of the toughest parts of their life,” Javers said. 

Javers just finished six months of chemo in April and has had several tumors and organs removed; it's common ground she shares with many of her patients.

“I just really try to encourage them through that, through my own experience. Sometimes I'll even show them my port, that I have one as well,” Javers said.

But even though she's shares a similar story, Javers says at work a child's story is more important because their health is her number one priority.

Javers' journey with cancer continues. In two weeks, she'll have another surgery to remove her uterus and again part of her colon.

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