How a 27-year-old is stopping stigma after rare condition that causes her to carry around oxygen machine

Dollita Okine June 05, 2024
Allen, who felt lonely after receiving her diagnosis during the height of the pandemic, resorted to social media to share her experience. Photo Credit: TikTok, Natasha Allen

Natasha Allen is battling stage four synovial sarcoma, but she isn’t letting it stop her from enjoying a fulfilling life. According to the National Cancer Institute, synovial sarcoma is an uncommon kind of cancer that typically affects younger persons and is most commonly discovered in the arm, leg, or foot as well as around joints like the wrist or ankle.

On July 28, 2020, the 27-year-old drove herself to the doctor’s office, expecting normal findings from a biopsy performed after knee surgery. That was when the rare and severe disease was first discovered to be plaguing her. Allen recalled the room being cold and gloomy when her doctor informed her that she had a tumor.

She recounted to GMA, “I asked him, like, what kind of tumor? And he said synovial sarcoma, Google it. And he said that with no emotion, not looking at me. When you hear cancer, you think death right away, even if you don’t want to and I just kept on thinking I am 23. I’m 23 like this is not supposed to happen to me.”

After driving home to inform her family of the news, Allen received the consolation she much needed from her younger brother and her mother, an ABC News producer. Allen, who felt lonely after receiving her diagnosis during the height of the pandemic, resorted to social media to share her experience.

Allen believes her diagnosis should have come sooner, as she began experiencing pain in her knee in the fall of 2019, but didn’t think much of it because she is a long-time basketball player.

In November 2019, she opted to have a medical scan after she started limping. Surprisingly, her doctor postponed the biopsy until July 2020, although she had anticipated having one during her knee surgery in February 2020.

She feels that she was treated differently because of her young age and the fact that she is a Black woman, among other reasons. She claimed that she was not handled with empathy from the moment she received the diagnosis.

She has over 168,000 followers and over 22 million likes on TikTok, which she uses to share her cancer journey. Still, these numbers cheer her up largely because they indicate that her efforts to raise awareness of cancer, particularly among youth, have been effective.

Allen has used her TikTok platform to interact with both cancer patients and people who have not yet been diagnosed. She’s also met other young kids with cancer who can relate to her experience.

She remarked, “I actually ended up getting my first cancer friend early on in my cancer journey. It was nice to feel like not alone because like you’ll have your family and your friends but … sometimes you bring up mortality and they’re like, no, don’t talk about that. And I’m like, well, how can I not talk about it when it’s on my mind all the time?”

Currently, Allen has gathered the backing of hundreds of thousands of fans who watch and follow her daily life content, following her from trivia nights to chemotherapy days.

“The messages that really, like, hit a chord with me are the ones where people say ‘[hey,] you are an inspiration. Being able to be that someone for someone else makes it all worth it,’” Allen shared.  

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 5, 2024

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