Skip to main content

Two Montreal sisters fight the same rare form of cancer that Terry Fox had


Osteosarcoma is the kind of cancer Terry Fox had and it's very rare.

Yet, a West Island family is struggling with two cases of the disease - in two sisters - and the MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) is helping them fight for their lives.

Dr. Ahmed Aoude is treating 18-year-old patient Katelyn Harding, who recently went through what he calls, "one of the biggest surgeries in modern medicine."

"Thirty-six hours, multiple surgeons involved, multiple teams, organizing chemo, possible radiation, medicial oncology, medical surgery," said Aoude, who is director of the MUHC sarcoma program.

Katelyn's osteosarcoma was in her lower back, where the spine connects to her pelvis.

Bone and soft tissue had to be removed during the surgery.

The experts are helping the active student and athlete rebuild. Looking at Katelyn's scans, the reconstruction of her sacrum is visible.

Aoude has a background in Engineering, and it shows.

"It's almost like an Eiffel Tower, a triangular a fixation of the spine back onto the pelvis," he said.

The surgery went well, and the next step is rehab and relearning how to walk.

"I think when I start using the braces and like getting up then I will be able to digest it because right now it's like a story, I'm just hearing it but it's not actually happening yet," said Katelyn.

Her older sister, Cassandra, 20, is also on her own cancer journey.

She was diagnosed with her own osteosarcoma the year before her little sister.

"Osteosarcoma is two per cent of all cancers and when you have two family members who are at a young age and getting diseases then you quickly question genetics," said Aoude.

The girls' mother, Debbie Sorger, died of cancer but never underwent genetic screening.

Both Katelyn and Cassandra have had genetic testing, and both sisters have what's known as the P53 genetic variant.

"It predisposes them to get cancers earlier on," said Aoude.

"It puts us both at risk of multiple, primary cancers, which means constant follow up," said Cassandra. "My doctors like to call it 'scan-xiety,' so anxiety following the scans, before the scans, during the scans because they're every three months by the time you get the results of one you're already booked for the next one. It's a lot to process, it's hard." Their father Christopher Harding spoke about the strength it takes for the young women to soldier on.

"Look at these two girls and see the battles that they gone through and the strength that they have and motivation and the will, the desire, the push forward," he said.

Aoude agrees.

"Every time I see these patients, they are an inspiration to all of us," he said. "They remind you of what's important and how strong and dedicated they are to getting better."  


A post shared by @hardingsisters45 Top Stories


OPINION Where are the Prince and Princess of Wales?

What is the mysterious reason that caused Prince William to miss his own godfather's memorial service? And why is the Princess of Wales conspicuously absent? CTV News royal commentator Afua Hagan shares her thoughts.

Stay Connected