Owen has had 13 surgeries over 3 years.
Owen was diagnosed with metastatic (cancer had already spread to his lung) high grade osteosarcoma on January 23rd, 2013 at the age of 8. He immediately began a very aggressive chemotherapy regimen, 30 treatments, that continued through October 2013. The tumor (16.5cm x 6.5cm) was in his right femur/knee and on April 24th, 2013 Owen had limb salvage surgery to remove the tumor/bone/muscle. The bone was replaced with a prosthetic, expandable implant. It took Owen more than a year of physical therapy, 5 days per week to regain strength and movement of his leg.
Owen has relapsed twice; In 2014 during his 12 month scans (he has scans every 3 months to check for recurrence) the cancer had spread to his lung again. Then just 9 months after the removal of nodule in his it returned again in 2015for the 3rd time in the right lung. This time the surgery required complete removal of the lower lobe of his right lung. Most recently, Owen developed a STAPH infection in the fluid around his remaining right lung. He was quickly admitted to MUSC (for 13 days), required 2 surgeries, 3 chest tubes and a scraping of his lung.
10 surgeries in 3 years
- Biopsy of tumor -1/22/2013
- Port placement – 1/22/2013
- Limb salvage - 4/24/2013
- infection/reaction to sutures, leg reopened/washed out – 6/2013
- thoracotomy – 10/2013
- port removal – 11/2013
- thoracotomy – 11/2014
- lobe resection -10/2015
- chest tube to drain staph infection – 5/3/16
- two chest additional chest tubes to drain staph infection and a lung scraping – 5/6/16
In addition to all of that, Owen has his leg lengthened every 4-6 weeks until he reaches full growth which is typically around the age of 20 for boys. This requires him to miss a day of school and travel 2 ½ hours to MUSC and back. The lengthening is done with a magnet (picture mini MRI) placed around his leg. The magnet makes the gears inside of his prosthetic implant turn 1mm every 4 minutes. They only lengthen his leg 4mm per time to prevent damage to the soft tissue surrounding the implant. He also has limitations; no running, jumping, sliding, falling on his leg as it could damage the prosthetic and could result in further surgery/replacement of implant. We are already aware of a loosening in the tibia which will have to be replaced in the future.
Owen has a little sister, Layla (8), she was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. His chemotherapy treatments were all inpatient hospital stays in another city for 4 days a week, 3 weeks in a row, then a 2 week break from January-October. I would stay with Owen in the hospital while Layla stayed home with daddy. It was extremely difficult for all of us in so many different ways. She would cry at night missing Owen and me. Her big brother having cancer is ‘normal’ to her. When we returned from his Make A Wish trip, she asked me if she could go to Disney World for her Make A Wish trip when she gets cancer. She prays every night for God to help him with his cancer.
5 months ago I (Mom) was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. To say we were shocked/stunned by the diagnosis is an understatement. I’ve completed five 1/2 weeks of chemo and radiation and am scheduled for surgery (ESOPHAGECTOMY) on October 30th. They will resect my esophagus and stomach, basically removing the portion of my esophagus and stomach affected by the cancer. The cancer had also spread to 2 lymph nodes so they will be removing those as well. I will be in the hospital for approximately 10 days and will require a feeding tube for approximately a month. I had a feeding tube inserted at the beginning of my treatment due to the size of the tumor and then the burning/rawness caused by radiation I could barely swallow water.
Owen has been so strong for me and so understanding. Layla has been heartbroken and scared. My husband Paul has been a rock for me, taking care of me and the kids and the house and everything.
The fear of Owen’s cancer returning (and now mine) can be overwhelming at times, especially when it’s time for quarterly scans. I believe we all suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder in some way shape or form. Our lives have been forever changed by this terrible disease; physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually… we will never be the same again, our day to day everything is changed by cancer. The trauma we’ve experienced can make even the simplest of tasks seem overwhelming.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
The Plasman Family