Josh was throwing a football with his brother outside in late August, 2015. He threw the ball as hard as he could and heard a snap. We thought he had pulled a muscle and after about 3 days of wrapping and having a sling on it so he couldn’t move it, it wasn’t getting better. A friend of ours was a trainer at the local high school and told us to let the doctor on duty at the high school football game take a look at it before we spend the big money at the hospital. The doctor heard the story and looked at Josh’s arm and told us he needed to get an xray asap. He told us to come to a free clinic for high school athletes held at Mississippi Sports Medicine. We got there 1st thing in the morning hoping and praying it was just a break. The doctors rushed us back for xray and then quickly put us in a room. When 2 doctors came in I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. They pulled up the xray and showed us the “fuzzy part.” They never said the word but told us they were referring us to a pediatric orthopedic oncologist. I broke down immediately. My husband however didn’t hear or know what oncologist meant. He looked at me after the doctors left and said, “why are you crying? They are sending us to a specialist that can tell us what is wrong with Josh.” I looked at him and said, “Yeah, a Cancer specialist.” He didn’t believe me and ended up looking up what oncologist meant and then we both cried.
The doctor did the biopsy and to our surprised it came back negative! No Cancer! He stayed in a sling for a while and after it looked as though his arm had healed the doctor gave her blessing to go and be a boy again. So he did just that! He went and finished football season and went into basketball season. He wasn’t raising his arm up all the way but because he had been in a sling for so long they told us that if it didn’t get better he would need physical therapy.
Two days after Christmas 2015, Josh came to me saying that his arm was swollen and hurt like it did before. His arm looked big and I called the doctor. We went in for an xray and when they put the xray beside his last one you could tell that is wasn’t right. The tumor was now outside the bone. We believe he had re-fractured his bone and the tumor started growing and seeped outside the bone. After that it was a whirlwind of tests and blood work. He was officially diagnosed Jan 7, 2016.
We started the standard MAP treatment plan Jan 19, 2016. He got really sick on the chemo given. Leading up to surgery, we were hoping for a miracle because saving his arm seemed unlikely. The tumor had grown so fast and big that it had encased all his nerves and tendons in his upper right arm. Osteosarcoma turns to bone once it is dead so the use of those tendons and nerves would be useless. They had to amputate. Not only the arm but the shoulder blade and his collar bone as well to get clear margins. The amputation occur in Apr 2016 and he was a champ through it all. The tumor had 95% necrosis, which indicates the chemo was working. Therefore, he finished his MAP treatment in Oct 2016.
We then had scans every 3 months alternating the full body bone scans and chest CT’s. In Oct 2017, our 1 year scans post treatment, he reoccured. They believed in several spots in his bone. After several test and biopsy’s only one of the locations was Osteosarcoma, is right tibia just below the knee. Our world had come crumbling down around us once again, just as we started to breathe a little easier and learn how to be in the non cancer world anymore.
He started the only other protocol for Osteosarcoma in Oct 2017, which we call I and E. He had Limb Salvage Surgery on Dec 8, 2017. The tumor was again 95% necrosis. As of March 26th, 2018, he is finishing up his last chemo dosage. He is still not able to walk but we hope with being able to go the PT now regularly then it won’t be long before he is back outside with is brother and friends. He will have scans the 1st part of Apr 2018 and we are having faith that the cancer will be gone and stay gone.
We are scared of what the future will hold because he has had a recurrence his chances are higher for another and at that point we have to use trial drugs because there is no other protocol for this cancer. We love that Rally is doing their own research and we pray and hope that a cure is found.
Every child who has been diagnosed with childhood cancer inspires us to Rally On to find better treatments with fewer long-term side effects and, ultimately, cures. Please join us in the fight against childhood cancer by making a donation or setting up your own Rally fundraiser today.