The first thing you need to know about Laura Borrelli is that she will beat this.
Ms. Laura Borrelli is a 30 year old high school teacher and coach at Jackson Liberty High School that was diagnosed with Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma (EHE) in August 2010.
After leading the Lady Lions as head coach to a spectacular softball season where they were B-South Champions and advanced to the semifinals of the Ocean County and State Tournaments, and the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament, Coach Borrelli found a bump on her shin and quietly spent her summer in and out of doctor’s offices, taking test after test from June until August, when she was finally diagnosed with Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma (EHE) after a bone biopsy.
EHE is such a rare type of cancer that most doctors will never see in their entire careers as a healthcare practitioner. Even specialists at the elite cancer hospitals in the United States may never see it, or only see it once in their careers as a doctor.
Click Here to learn more about EHE.
Aside from being the head coach of varsity softball for the Lions, she also has coached field hockey and basketball, but stepped down after her cancer diagnosis.
Even with her dedication to the athletic programs at Liberty High School, she is also deeply immersed in many other school activities such as:
- Leading Student Government
- Serving as a mentor for the Smart Start Program
- Serving as an advisor for the Pals Program, which is a welcoming committee for new students that also conducts workshops throughout the year about teen issues.
She is most recognized for her role as Student Council Advisor where she coordinates activities throughout the school year to enhance the school spirit at Liberty. Under Borrelli’s leadership, the Student Council also serves as a major contributor to community needs by providing fundraisers for students or families facing economic hardship that require additional financial support. Some of the activities coordinated by Borrelli and the Student Council include:
- Pep Rallies
- Mr. JLHS
- Liberty Idol
- Powder Puff
- JLHS Talent Show
- Spirit Week
- Dodge Ball Tournaments
During her time at Jackson Liberty High School, Coach Borrelli has served as a role-model to the students and Jackson community, earning recognition from her students and peers for her dedication to the school. Here is a brief highlight of some of her achievements:
- Teacher of the Year 2009: awarded by fellow teachers as well as by the students in a separate selection process
- Sportsmanship Award 2008 & 2010
On September 22, 2010 Borrelli had a massive 9 and 1/2 hour limb salvage surgery at UMDNJ in Newark in order to save her leg and surgically remove the 6 cancerous lesions found in her leg. Six inches of her right tibia (shin) was removed and replaced with cadaver bone. Eighty percent of her fibula was removed and placed up against her tibia to provide support for her leg. An artery was taken from her leg and placed into her bone to help the cadaver cells grow. All this is held together with surgical plates and screws, and part of her calf muscle was moved from the back of her leg and stretched around to provide a protective cushion to the tibia which lies right below the skin. Due to the massive amount of swelling produced by this type of surgery, a skin graft was taken from her upper thigh and placed on her outer leg to help close the wound and prevent the popping of any of her 133 staples. After surgery, Borrelli received a blood transfusion due to the amount of blood loss during her lengthy surgery.
These images display normal leg bones and a copy of Borrelli’s x-ray that she provided. The x-ray diagram shows where her tibia was removed and replaced with cadaver bone, where 80% of her fibula was cut and moved to provide support to her leg, and the screws and plates holding it together. It takes months for the bones to fuse back together, which is why she is still unable to put any weight on her leg 3 months post surgery.
Click the images for a larger view.
Borrelli was in the hospital for 8 days in the Trauma Unit at University Hospital Medical Center, and then in an Acute Care Facility for an additional 8 days. Borrelli is unable to put any pressure on her leg, which could cause a fracture as her bones have not fused together yet; she will be using crutches for at least 6 months.
Ms. Borrelli has been out of school since the beginning of the school year and is hopeful she will be able to return to teaching at the beginning of the next semester. Recently she is recovering from a follow-up surgery on 12/9/2010 to increase the range of motion in her ankle that was lost due to the formation of scar tissue.
Currently, as she prepares for another spectacular softball season, she awaits a PET scan to confirm that all of the cancer has been successfully removed from her leg, as well as additional imaging and biopsy of some concerning spots found on her liver.
***All information provided within this website, including any medical information or diagnostic imaging, was provided by or approved for release by Laura Borrelli***