Meet Holt, a sarcoma survivor
Holt started having arm pain on a Wednesday, just two days before his 5-year-old checkup with his pediatrician. At his appointment, his mom, Katie, mentioned the pain to the pediatrician who then ordered an x-ray just to be safe. The hospital called Katie’s husband, a physician, on the way home from the procedure and told them to go downtown immediately. Within a few days, Holt was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and began chemotherapy.
The Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of rapidly-spreading bone cancer, was localized to Holt’s left humerus. The standard treatment is chemotherapy, then surgery and sometimes radiation. Holt had all three done.
During surgery, Holt’s fibula was removed from his left leg and used to replace his humerus. After the tumor was removed (which had destroyed the bone) the surgeons did the vascularized fibula procedure. He then had more chemo and radiation. He primarily received care from Norton Children’s Hospital, and now he goes to Cincinnati Children’s for follow-ups and will hopefully someday be under the care of their survivorship program.
The reality of sarcoma is tough for a child. Treatment lasted a year. Holt would go in the hospital for one week of treatment, then return home for one week for his counts to recover. He has already had a revision to his arm because some of the screws came loose. Part of his recovery meant learning how to walk again and use his arm. He missed Kindergarten. He can’t do contact sports, bounce houses, or ride a bike. This is super tough for an active seven year old.
After a long journey, Holt is cancer-free today. He now has full range of motion in his arm. He enjoys going to physical therapy at Kids Center with Mrs. Michele Wilder. He loves to swim, play chess and golf, and has now been cleared for basketball at school next year! He recently qualified for the CCSA swim meet finals and did an amazing job at freestyle and breast stroke.
Though he is back in action and living his life as a kid, he still struggles with not being able to do certain things, and has some PTSD with friends he lost in the hospital who were being treated at the same time.
Holt now has follow-up scans every three months, which will continue for at least two to five years.
Though sarcoma is an underfunded cancer with limited treatment options, Katie advises others to not get caught up in reading statistics. She encourages everyone to try to stay positive, believe that someday treatments will improve, and spread the word about Sarcoma awareness!