Taking the first steps

Around the beginning of April, Jacob started to complain about some knee pain. This gradually worsened, and soon he was limping and could no longer play sports or run around on the farm. By the end of April, Jacob could hardly climb the stairs in the house.  We visited our family doctor who suggested that it was probably Patellar Femoral Syndrome – a sports injury – combined with growing pains, since Jacob had recently ( and quickly!) sprouted up several inches.  We accepted this as an adequate explanation and were told to do some physio exercises and to come back in a month if no change or things had worsened.

Sunday, June 3, we noticed a swelling above Jacobs left knee. It was very hard and did not have the usual appearance of inflammation from injury.

Monday, June 4, I ( Mom) took Jacob back to the family doctor concerned that this did not look typical at all. The look on the doctors face told me that this indeed was not typical, and I knew already then that something serious was going on. We were sent for bloodwork and X-Rays. Only 4 short hours later we were called that the X-ray was back and that I needed to bring Jacob back to the doctor immediately. The secretary then added “ and Tracey, the doctor has requested that your spouse comes along as well.”  Fear and panic hit instantly, but we composed ourselves and went back to the doctor.  He showed us an X-ray of Jacobs femur and told us that it had a large tumor growing inside of it.  He said “ it’s bad” and “the worst of the worst”.  We were told that the radiologist thought it looked like aggressive osteosarcoma and  referred to Children’s Hospital Oncology and to an orthopaedic oncology surgeon.

The next couple days were an emotional rollercoaster, but I will spare you all those details.

Today, June 8, after waiting what felt like eternity, we went to Children’s Hospital for testing and consults.  The morning started with X-rays of his leg and a CT scan of his lungs.  The lungs are the most common place that osteosarcoma spreads to first. After the scans we met with our oncologist to discuss what the journey may look like.  We were told that the CT scan was clear with NO signs of cancer in his lungs. We were so relieved to hear this news.

An IV line was put in place and bloodwork done.  We met “our” nurse and “our” social worker as well. They assured us that we will never be alone when we are at the hospital and that they are our team, along with the oncologist.

The last test of the day was an MRI of Jacobs pelvis down to his shins.  I got to sit with him through this which was very helpful for Jacob as his anxiety was high.  *note to anyone sitting next to an MRI machine – take out the bobby pins in your hair 😋 . Mine were standing straight up and being pulled towards the machine.  We had to stop the scan halfway to get them out of the room. The scan took about an hour, and then we met briefly with the orthopaedic surgeon.  He will be performing an open biopsy of Jacobs femur on Wednesday, June 13.  Jacob will be put under for this as they will do a 2-3 inch incision to cut out a piece of bone to be sent to pathology to see what type of osteosarcoma Jacob has.  This will be an overnight stay.  Friday June 15 Jacob has a PET scan to look for spread of cancer in other bones at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver.  These last 2 tests are critical for the doctors to decide the course of action needed and what chemo meds to give and how often.

The cancer appears to be quite aggressive and the tumor is already very large. Once all the results are in, the doctors are thinking that we will begin with 3 months of chemo therapy to shrink the tumor and prevent spread, and then surgery will take place after that, with more chemo to follow. With osteosarcoma, chemo alone will not cure. The cancer has to be physically removed. The upcoming surgery will be invasive and bones will need to be removed and replaced. The road ahead will be very long, painful, and difficult for Jacob, and just as painful on our hearts to watch.

The outpouring of love from those around us has been a huge support. Meals, visits, hugs, cards, gifts, and most importantly prayer, has been appreciated by all of us so much.  Please continue to pray for Jacob and for our family as we step out into the unknown. We are afraid, but we know that with with God as our Guide walking along with us every step, that we are not alone.  This verse has been shared with us many times over the last few days.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you ; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you ; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

We cling to these words right now.