Claremore woman battles rare cancer

Claremore woman Katrina Sears is battling a rare form of soft tissue cancer and will be undergoing chemotherapy in Houston in the coming weeks. Sears is the mother of two children, Zoe, three and a half, and Easton, one.

While some Claremore residents may be making plans to travel for the Christmas season, one Rogers County woman is planning an early trip to Texas, but not to visit friends or relatives.

For Katrina Sears, her holiday travel plans will be — she hopes — will be a trip to save her life.

Claremore resident Sears was recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of soft tissue cancer and she soon will be making the trip to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy.

“I’m a little scared, I guess,” Sears said, “but I hope this works. I’m not sure if I’ll be spending Christmas there or if I’ll be able to come back home. We’ll see.”

Last March, Sears was at work when she noticed a knot on the back of her neck.

“Initially, I didn’t think much of it, but after w while, I started having other symptoms, like blurry vision, really bad headaches, and some other things, so I went to the emergency room to be checked out,” she said. “I was told I had a benign tumor, and referred out since it (the tumor) was near my spine.

“From there, I was sent to St. Johns, we scheduled the surgery in June and was made to think it really wasn’t a big deal — I mean, serious, but not something for me to be too worried about,” she said.

Once June came along, Sears — and her family — found out it was indeed something to be worried about.

“In June, Katrina had the surgery to remove what was thought was a non-cancerous tumor,” began Katrina’s mother, Lana, “but once they started, the tumor was found to be synovial sarcoma, which is a rare and aggressive cancer.

“Also known as malignant synovioma, synovial sarcoma is a very rare form of cancer which usually occurs in the extremities of the arms or legs, often in close proximity to joint capsules and tendon sheaths, and as one of the soft tissue sarcomas, it is one of the rarest forms of soft tissue cancer,” she said. “Right now, Katrina’s already had five weeks of radiation and another surgery, being treated for what we originally didn’t know was synovial sarcoma. Now, she’s about to start four and a half months of chemotherapy at MD Anderson (Cancer Center).”

Although Sears is hopeful that chemo will help, initial word about the severity of her condition “hit her very hard.”

“In the beginning, I kind of shut everybody out,” she said. “I’d just go to work and not talk about it. I didn’t want to think about it, but it’s the kind of thing you have to think about — you have to deal with, and my family has done a lot to help me deal with this.”

Sears will be making the trip to MD Anderson with family members and “staying as long as she can, as long as the finances last,” she said, although she currently doesn’t have enough for the full chemo regime.

“We’ve had some fundraisers and there’s an account set up in Katrina’s name at a local bank, which I couldn’t tell you how appreciative we would be for any donations to it, but for now, we’re only going to be able to get her the treatments we can afford — we’re hopeful, we’re praying for the best, for a miracle,” Lana said.

“Coming back home for Christmas would be great,” Katrina said, “but more than anything, I’m just wanting to be healthy again — for me and my babies — however long that takes.”

An account is set up for Katrina Sears at RCB Bank under Katrina Sears Benefit Fund. Donations may be made at any RCB Bank branch.