As a last resort, with the help of a family friend, she traveled to Lourdes, France, to visit the Roman Catholic healing shrine. For more than 150 years, the Lourdes shrine has been the site of many reported miracles, and an estimated 6 million pilgrims visit the healing waters each year.
When she arrived, Gordon was so weak she had to be carried out to the stone-walled bath filled with holy water on a stretcher. But weeks later, she was back on her feet and feeling better than she had in five months.
Whether it was the medicine, faith or both, she gradually started to look and act more like the same girl she was a year before. Her cancer is now in remission.
"I think it was a combination of the surgeries, baths and most of all the mental battle of believing," she said.
Throughout the treatment, Gordon had friends and family by her side. She had a support group of cancer patients to talk to, but many were older, and she found their stories at age 40-plus different from hers.
She decided to keep fighting for cancer patients her age, even though her personal battle seemed to be over.
The same late night in February 2003 when Sarah was sweating with fear, she wrote a promise to the cancer community:
"I promise you one thing, wherever you take this, if you let me move on -- cancer free or not -- I can assure you of something: I will do wonders with this priceless education you have so generously given me. Whatever decision you make, I will dive into this, I will start foundations, I will plan charitable events: runs, dinners, benefits. I will be an active member of the cancer community in every way I know how."
She has kept her promise for more than four years. She currently works full-time for the Ulman Cancer Fund in Columbia, Md., where she founded and organized a program called Run-Tri Together that encourages young people to raise money by competing in either half marathons, full marathons or triathlons. All funds from the program go to cancer support and outreach programs.
Gordon also offers support to another sarcoma patient through a group called the Imerman Angels. She talks regularly to a 28-year-old cancer patient in Chicago and reminds him how important it is to keep fighting.
Immediately after graduating from college in 2003, Gordon organized and ran in a 5K race in Chicago to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Since her first 5K, she has run three half marathons, two triathlons and will complete her first full marathon, the Paris marathon, April 15.
Fundraising for cancer is both her full-time job and her most time-consuming hobby. Sarah will be running in the Paris marathon and trying to raise $70,000 for each of the 70,000 voices in the 18 to 40 age range who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
Her $70, 000 fundraising mission will continue until the end of 2007.
"I want to raise $70,000 this year to educate the young and let them know they're not invincible while also challenging the 70,000 young people being diagnosed with cancer to embrace the challenge."
To donate and become one of Sarah's 70,000 voices, visit: unmarathon.org.