When he was in sixth grade, Cameron was fast—really fast. He could run a mile in six minutes and forty seconds. But then in seventh grade, when he expected his times to improve, he slipped back to a nine-minute mile. The usual suspects were blamed—video games, not enough practice, or too many snacks. Then Cameron began to experience severe back pain that would regularly wake him up at night. It turned out that the same culprit that robbed him of his speed would threaten to take away much more.
“Over the course of the next couple of months, I went to many doctors and had x-rays, but nothing was found. Finally, in January 2010, I was sent for an MRI and an aggressive looking tumor was found in the right iliac wing of my pelvis,” recalled Cameron, of Burlington.
Within a week, Cameron was sent to Michael Isakoff, MD, director of clinical trials, Hematology/Oncology at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Isakoff confirmed that Cameron had cancer. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that occurs primarily in children. Cameron’s cancer had already spread to his lungs and bone marrow.
“The whole staff at Connecticut Children’s was wonderful. I was really scared, and they took the time to explain everything to me and to my family,” said Cameron.
“They wanted to make sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. At that point I had no idea just how well I would get to know these people, or how much a part of my life they would become.”
Over the next year, Cameron had surgery and 14 rounds of chemotherapy. In one surgery lasting more than 10 hours, nearly one third of Cameron’s pelvis was removed along with the tumor. Physical therapy and more chemo followed through the summer months. Cameron finished his final round of chemo in November 2010.
“But we can’t forget that Cam was lucky, too,” said Scott, Cameron’s father. “If the tumor had spread just another half inch closer to the sacroiliac joint, too much of the pelvis would have had to be removed to give his leg a place to rest in the joint and give the support its needs to function properly. He would have lost his right leg. We are thankful the doctors could stop the tumor’s growth before it got to that.”
“Cam’s determination and spirit can’t be overstated. Before he was even done with his final round of chemo, he participated in Vie for the Kids 5k fundraiser. He’s an amazing young man,” said Danielle, Cameron’s mother. “He was not in the best shape on the day of the race. His blood counts were down and he was white as a sheet. It took him more than two hours to finish. But all his friends and supporters stuck with him and he finished the race in style—running across the finish line. Everyone cheered. It was a moment I won’t forget.”
“I completed chemo in November 2010 and the following April was cleared to play lacrosse—I scored my first goal in May,” added Cameron. “While I will never be as fast as I was in sixth grade, and I will always walk with a limp, I’m playing on both soccer and lacrosse teams at my high school. And, I’ve been cancer free for almost three years.” Dr. Isakoff concludes, “Cameron’s prognosis is good. But what’s outstanding is the way Cameron is living the life he wants. Despite his challenges, he still plays sports with great pride and enthusiasm. He helps other kids going through what he went through, and to see that there’s life on the other side of treatment. He’s a special young man.”