The Parker and equestrian community has come together to raise over $11,000 in one week for 19-year-old Quincy Rohrbach to fulfill her bucket list after being diagnosed with a rare bone cancer.
“The equestrian community is just really strong here in Colorado and all over, really, everybody has just been super supportive and wonderful,” said Kristina Matthews, fundraiser director and family friend.
While riding her horse last summer, Rohrbach had a minor fall and hurt her shoulder. When she got an x-ray, the imaging showed a bone tumor in the humerus bone of her upper right arm. A further PET scan and a bone biopsy revealed the mass to be osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
Rohrbach was diagnosed with stage 4 osteosarcoma that has metastasized to her lungs.
Matthews set up an AngeLink account to raise money for Rohrbach to travel. Items on her bucket list include going to see the sea of stars in the Maldives.
“These funds will go towards her family being able to take her to places that she wants to go to,” said Matthews. “These funds are to not only spread awareness, but we’re going to donate some of the portions to osteosarcoma research.”
Osteosarcoma is one of three types of bone cancer and typically originates around the adolescent, young adult time point and in 70 to 80 year old individuals.
“Bone sarcomas are incredibly rare,” said Dr. Daniel Lerman, medical director of the Institute for Limb Preservation at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Once we get into the world of bone sarcoma, osteosarcoma is the most common pediatric bone cancer.”
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1,000 new cases of osteosarcoma are diagnosed each year in the U.S. and while nearly half of these cases are in children and teenagers, around 2% of childhood cancers are osteosarcomas.
Osteosarcoma does come with grades or levels of aggressiveness. The disease is staged based on its size, location factors and most significantly if the cancer has spread from its initial location.
Rohrbach began intensive chemotherapy in July and underwent surgery to remove the primary tumor. In October, Rohrbach had a complete reverse shoulder replacement and resection of her upper right arm.
Despite the rounds of chemotherapy, another scan revealed the cancer had metastasized to her pelvis and is inoperable. Rohrbach was placed on new chemotherapy drugs to target the cancer cells that were not responding to previous treatment, however, she suffered from a rare reaction in January and spent seven days in the ICU on a ventilator.
This month, Rohrbach will be undergoing surgery once again to remove over 50 nodules in both her lungs.
With a goal of raising $20,000, family and friends are hoping to exceed that amount. Starting in May, there will be nine weeks of horse shows and the Colorado Horse Park and Littleton Equine Medical Center have teamed up so portions of the proceeds will be donated to the AngeLink.
According to Lerman, any bone cancer typically presents itself as a low level, deep, achy, throbbing pain, similar to a toothache, but one cannot rub the pain away or relieve with anything topical.
“People are usually able to be engaged in physical activity for a long time because pain does not seem to be as limiting of a factor during the day, but then is reproducible and recurrent, particularly in the evenings, awakening someone from sleep in the same area consistently,” said Lerman.
Lerman says it’s important to get imaging of the area and if x-rays are inconclusive, to get more advanced imaging such as an MRI. In addition, there are certain hospitals that specialize in bone cancers and sarcoma care, such as the institute for limb preservation.
“[The family] wants to create awareness,” said Matthews. “And give her as much support as they can get to help her fulfill her dreams.