By ROBERT JORDAN, The Index-Journal of Greenwood
No one faces cancer alone.
Briana Carruth hasn’t and recently several friends and supporters presented her a check from a fundraiser to help her as she receives treatment for synovial sarcoma.
It is a cancer that can come from different types of soft tissue, such as muscle or ligaments. It is often found in the arm, leg or foot, and near joints such as the wrist or ankle. It can also form in soft tissues in the lungs or abdomen.
In Carruth’s case, it started when she noticed a small knot on the arch of her foot. She knew something was going on for at least 18 months because she was having trouble. A family friend showed cellphone photos of small knots on Carruth’s foot.
While working at a hair salon, she complained of foot pain, Sherry Davis said. Everyone figured it was because she was standing up all the time. Briana was working two jobs, going to Piedmont Technical College to study criminal justice and was on the deans list.
She never missed a class, Davis said.
In February 2021, Carruth was told she had cancer. Treatments at Prisma Health Cancer Institute in Greenville began soon after. Carruth said on March 9, she was told should be cancer-free. A scan appeared good, with no scarring found. She had a cancer-free party. In May, she started chemotherapy because the cancer had spread to her lungs.
During treatment, her lower right leg was amputated.
She was declared cancer-free by Feb. 22. Then, doctors found another lump. She restarted chemo in May.
Synovial sarcoma is a rare, aggressive tissue cancer, Carruth said. It responds well to chemo, but it keeps coming back. She said she’ll stay on chemo through August. Then, radiation therapy will be discussed.
When someone said “cancer sucks,” she agreed. “I can’t catch a break.”
The cancer has slowed her down, but it hasn’t stopped her. Carruth continued her education at PTC and earned an associate degree in criminal justice. Her plan was to work as a crime investigator. With a prosthetic leg, Carruth is now considering a career in victims advocacy.
She worked with a victims advocate when she was 17. Carruth said she realized it was something she wanted to do. It is a chance for her to be a voice for people who can’t represent themselves.
For now, her education is on hold as Carruth continues her treatments. She had planned to attend Lander University for her bachelor’s degree.
“If I can figure out how to run with my prosthesis, I’ll attend the pre-police academy program at Piedmont,” she said.
Using a prosthetic leg involves a learning curve. Some days are better than others. She has two of them, the first one being a training model. The other she uses to handle regular motions.
Because of the treatments, Carruth was able to attend only one session of rehab. She has had to learn and practice walking largely on her own.
Her skills were put to the test when she was a bridesmaid at a wedding. Davis said it took Carruth 27 minutes to walk down the aisle, but she made it.
“She’s always been driven and determined,” said Brandi Carruth, Briana’s mother.
She is also fashionable. Carruth painted the toenails of her prosthetic a bright pink to match her other foot. One of her supporters shook off her shoe to reveal the same colors on her toenails.
Carruth and her mother joined friends and co-workers at The Olive Branch in Greenwood for a meal and a low-key presentation of a $ 1,400 check. The money was raised from a hash fundraiser presented at Ninety Six Church of God over the weekend, Davis said. Up to 110 quarts of hash were sold. Organizers were Burl Davis, Jody Davis, Chris Bundrick and Jerry Davis.
“She’s already a victim advocate in my eyes,” said Karen Lewis, one of the organizers of the check presentation. “Maybe she can be an advocate and show how strong she is. She is a survivor. Her lesson: Don’t give up. “
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