I wanted to make my title something funny like “Make Salma Great Again” but i met a lot resistance from family members. Peep that alliteration though!
My goal: I set the goal at 1 because I really don’t expect anything from anyone. Any donation, even a dollar, touches my heart. I would really love to give back to those who are struggling with Leiomyosarcoma so I made a gofundme so I can donate ALL the proceedings to the National Leiomyosarcoma foundation. Any donation is extremely appreciated, a dollar from everyone goes a long way.
About me: My name is Salma Harfouche, most of you might know me from the infamous Bagel Supreme in Rutherford NJ (i hope you can catch my sense of humor through the phone). I’m a 20 year old female from NJ who is still in college and is looking forward to resume in the fall despite chemo treatment. I’m a chemistry major who wants to go to medical school and be a cardiothoracic surgeon or a surgical oncologist because of my experience with cancer. I have a cancer journey Instagram where i give an intimate look into the daily life of a cancer patient and tips/information about sarcomas (insta: salli_dali). I’m also an MUA and once wanted to become a chemist who made cosmetics for different skin types (insta: _salmuah_). I also sing but can’t dance for shit which makes me very sad. I also love to color my hair crazy colors. I dyed my hair yellow in July after i got out of the hospital since it was sarcoma awareness month(:
My story: For 2 years i was feeling off. In 2017 i went to 10 doctors and they would check my blood and say i was in perfect health. No matter what, i still never felt right. I thought i was going crazy, i would cry driving home when they told me i was perfectly fine because deep down i knew i wasn’t. I had two episodes of very intense pain in my chest which worsened when i breathed in November and December of 2017. I went twice to Hackensack Hospital and they didn’t even give me a CT scan. They sent me home with ibuprofen and told me i had costochondritis without even checking my chest. I started getting horrible shortness of breath in May of 2018 and everyday it got worse and worse. At first i thought it was just being out of shape since i don’t exercise a lot. But it never got better, only worse so i began to believe i was having a pulmonary embolism (I’m a very paranoid person lol) so i went to a different hospital and demanded a CT scan because i was petrified. They gave me one and that’s when they saw a 17 by 10 cyst in my chest, between my lungs and pressing against my heart which is why i had shortness of breath. I got transferred to jersey city medical center and they drained the cyst. They did a biopsy of the fluid and it was just red blood cells nothing else. But they did imaging and still saw a mass except this time it was 16 by 10 and this was within 2 days of draining so they were shocked. They believed the cyst grew back and decided to remove it surgically. So i went into surgery and when they opened me up they didn’t see a cyst, but instead a huge tumor pressing on my heart in my chest wall. There were talks of a heart transplant, however my tumor was causing such severe tachycardia that I could have had a heart attack and died at any moment. Would there have even been any time to wait? When they did the pathology it was confirmed i had a Leiomyosarcoma and the hospital decided that the best idea was to send me to a cancer treatment center. i was sent to Sloan memorial Kettering in NY where I met the best oncologist a gal could ever wish for. I really think he's smarter than Jimmy Neutron. My oncologist told me that my type of sarcoma was very very resistant to chemotherapy so surgery was the best option if it was possible. He contacted a cardiac surgeon he knew had experience with taking tumors in the past and a few days later I was transferred to Cornell/Presbyterian. My surgeon was a miracle from god honestly. The tumor was both inside and outside my heart but miraculously even though it was inside, it didn’t compress ANY of my arteries or vessels. That was extremely rare and because of it i didn’t need bypass surgery, just tumor resection and heart reconstruction surgery. He removed the entire tumor with negative margins and reconstructed my entire right atrium. In late August I will be starting post operative chemotherapy. Despite everything I've been through, I think the worst part of my journey was not being able to find accurate information about Leiomyosarcomas. Because this is a very rare cancer, there is barely information out there to educate others correctly about it. The websites I could find, told me I only had a year left to live and that many people don't survive leiomyosarcomas for years. As a 20 year old, I was petrified and so was my family. This inspired me to start this go fund me and give these proceedings to foundations that contribute to research of Leiomyosarcomas.
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