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Spotlight on Amanda

by Jessica Ekstrom September 11, 2012

"My name is Amanda DeCarlo (pictured left) and I am currently 24 years old. My sister, Michelle DeCarlo (pictured right), died of Ewings Sarcoma 3 years ago on October 19, 2009, almost 1 month after her 19th birthday.

She was diagnosed at the age of 15 (going on 16) in May/June of 2007. I had just finished my first year of college. It took a while for her to be officially diagnosed because the tumor started in her left knee and the pain did not surface until after a cheer leading competition so it was just thought to be a sports injury.

Once she was finally diagnosed, we found out it was locally metathesis, so there were actually 3 tumors growing together on the femur, tibia and fibula. The cancer was aggressive and therefore treatment had to be aggressive.

She lost her hair within a few weeks of treatment and was under 100lbs. She was cancer free for about 6 months until her 7 month CT when they found a lesion on her rib. So from there, she underwent more radiation and chemo, but it didn't work. It eventually went to her lungs and she had a double lobectomy right before her senior prom. 
After graduation, we all knew it was coming since the doctors said there wasn't much more they could do besides try new clinical trials. Michelle opted to stop treatment, and just live the rest of her life. When she was feeling well enough, she was always out with her friends. She didn't let anything stop her. She went to Vegas with her friends at the same time I went for my 21st birthday.

A week or so before she passed, Michelle was brought to Rainbow Hospice to have a pain pump put in because the oral meds just were not working anymore. After a few days for it to be regulated, she was supposed to go home but during the night, she went in her sleep. The next morning everyone was there; friends, family, nurses... But the strange part is after her death and before the funeral, were the easiest days, because she was out of pain

After my sister died, I felt like I needed redemption in some way. Which is why I decided to go from being a medical assistant to pursuing a career in nursing.

In 2010, I decided I was going to shave my head for St. Baldrick’s. My efforts raised over $7,000 and Team Michelle raised over $10k. I will be shaving my head again in March of 2013 and hope to raise even more!

When I first discovered Headbands of Hope, I bought my first headband immediately. I absolutely love that a headband is donated to a girl who lost her hair to cancer. I wish this were around for my sister. I now currently own about 7 headbands!

I've seen how hard it is for a girl to lose her hair and I think the headbands help make them feel pretty again. Even though bald is beautiful, anything that can help boost a girl's confidence. I wear hope in memory of my beautiful sister!

Jessica Ekstrom
Jessica Ekstrom


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