Matthew was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in February of 2014. Osteosarcoma is an aggressive type of bone cancer. He started complaining back in mid-December 2013 that his knee was hurting. He had been playing basketball. We thought he was just having growing pains or muscle strain. We were icing his knee, but the pain never went away. Matthew was about to start soccer training for the spring season. The club that he plays for has a physical therapist that the players can go to for a free consultation. The therapist suggested an x-ray instead of starting physical therapy because he felt there was something wrong with his knee. Matthew saw an Orthopedic Doctor and they discovered something on the back of his knee cap. He was sent to have an MRI right away. The next morning we received the call that it was a tumor. We were referred to Emory Orthopedics to see Dr. Reimer, who specializes in children’s bone tumors. On February 11, 2014, Matthew had a biopsy. The results were not what we wanted to hear; the tumor was malignant. We were devastated!
He started chemotherapy the next week at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite Hospital. Matthew did 12 weeks of chemotherapy before having the tumor removed. We had to make a major decision about what surgery to have to remove the tumor. With Osteosarcoma, the only way to remove the tumor is to remove the bone which meant Matthew losing his knee and part of his femur. Matthew chose a surgery called Rotationplasty. You can visit www.rotationplasty.com to learn about the surgery. A quick overview of the surgery, they removed his knee and about 10 inches of his femur bone. They then brought his lower leg (tibia, ankle, foot) and turned it around 180 degrees and connected it back to the femur bone. His ankle becomes his new knee joint and his heel looks like his knee. He chose this because it will allow him the greatest chance of leading an active life and playing sports again. He had the surgery May 2014. The surgery was a success. They were able to remove the tumor with 100% percent margins.
Once he healed from the surgery, he was resumed 16 more weeks of chemotherapy. After two rounds of treatment, he had a follow up CT scan of his lungs. We received bad news that he had two spots appear on his lungs and that his primary tumor that was removed had a necrosis of only 20 %. With Osteosarcoma, the most common spot it spreads to is the lungs. Matthew’s oncologist, along with a 2nd opinion, decided to change his chemotherapy protocol to another drug. It wasn’t working and was making him so sick. He switched to a 2nd map line of chemotherapy for people who have a reoccurrence called Ifosfamide. This added on another six months of chemotherapy. He finished his last treatment February 2015. He had another CT scan which showed the spots to be stable and no new growth. This is very good news. He will be monitored every three months to make sure the spots remain stable. At this point, the doctor doesn’t want to remove the spots because they are extremely small. It would be an exploratory surgery and would be difficult to find. Please pray with us that Matthew’s scans continue to show stability with no new growth.
During treatment, he was able to get his prosthesis. His bones had fused together nicely and all his wounds were healed. Matthew was so excited to start learning how to walk again. He got his new leg in October 2014. It’s been a slow process with Matthew learning to walk. He was on chemotherapy longer than your typical regimen. Once he finished treatment, he has picked up his pace and is walking without crutches. He wants to be active again and get out playing with his friends. He hopes to be back at playing goalie in soccer soon as well as playing basketball and tennis.
Thank you for taking the time to read Matthew’s story. It’s important to use to raise awareness about childhood cancer and the lack of research. Childhood cancer needs to be a priority in our country! Please feel free to share Matthew’s story to raise awareness.