Lessons from a childhood cancer patient’s father

Just over three years ago, my son, Damon, now 12, was getting a hug from his mom when she noticed a lump on his left arm. She took him straight to an urgent care center. After an X-ray, they were sent to an emergency room. That’s where they got the diagnosis: bone cancer. Damon was immediately transferred to a pediatric hospital, where we got a clear picture of what we were up against: osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive a cancer that typically appears in children and adolescents. The time since then has been a whirlwind. After treatments, doctors have twice declared there was no evidence of disease in Damon’s body. But both times the cancer returned a few months later. We’ve dealt with chemotherapy, limb-salvage surgery and later an amputation of his arm. We’re now waiting for a clinical trial to treat metastases to his lungs. Obviously, our whole family has been through a lot during the past few years. Though it’s been tough, there are few things we’ve learned about fighting cancer along the way. Be willing to include your child Every child is different, but for Damon, not knowing what was happening was worse than knowing. When we first started our cancer journey, Damon’s mom and I were having hushed discussions and private meetings with his doctors. This scared him quite a bit. When we offered him the chance to be part of these conversations, he took it. Having Damon involved in all the meetings and decisions hasn’t always been easy, but it has been better than the fear of the unknown. It’s also helped Damon mature...