Cancer Survivor

Shortly after her diagnosis of chondrosarcoma of the pelvis, a rare form of cancer, Marina Makhnach was told by several physicians that she would need an amputation of her leg, from the hip down, to survive.

Facing death or the loss of her ability to walk, the future seemed bleak for the former athlete. But when Marina met sarcoma oncologist Jonathan Trent, M.D., Ph.D., she found hope at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Under his care, she became the first person treated with a new drug to target cancer-causing mutated IDH genes in chondrosarcoma patients.

Four years later, without chemotherapy or surgery, Marina is virtually pain-free, her tumor has shrunk, and she is ecstatic to be back to an active lifestyle. Marina’s confidence in Dr. Trent has paved the way for a better outcome and quality of life for countless patients with aggressive sarcomas. As she completed her first mile at DCC 10, she felt like a walking miracle.

Four years ago, I couldn’t walk. Now I am the happiest person in the world.

Watch Marina share her story here.

We’ve made some really great breakthroughs at Sylvester in the last year or two, largely supported by the DCC.

Jonathan C. Trent, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine
Associate Director, Clinical Research
Director, Sarcoma Program
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Dr. Trent has participated as a member of Team Sarcoma in almost every DCC event since its

Dcc Impact

The DCC has contributed to building one of the nation’s premier sarcoma centers at Sylvester, encompassing patient care, education, and research. 

Supported by DCC funds, the research conducted by Dr. Trent and his team have led to several advances in chondrosarcoma and paved the way for new, innovative, and less intrusive therapies for sarcomas.

Dr. Trent led the research and clinical trial in which Marina participated, using a new drug to target cancer-causing mutated IDH genes in chondrosarcoma patients. Prior to this research, patients with advanced chondrosarcoma had no options outside of chemotherapy and surgery. 

Sylvester researchers were the first to study the combination of targeted therapy drug axitnib and immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab for sarcomas. They found that tumors either stabilized or were reduced in more than 70 percent of patients with alveolar soft-part sarcoma, a cancer type which affects younger patients and has no known effective chemotherapy options. 

Dr. Trent and his team also used the combination therapy to treat angiosarcoma, another highly aggressive, rare cancer. They found tumors regressed in 71 percent of patients, all of whom had previously been resistant to chemotherapy. 

Share this story