Note: Joey’s story was shared by his mother, Linda.
Joey’s Story: My son Joey, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February 2009. A large tumor in his knee proved to be malignant. I had never heard of this disease and was sure that whatever it was, he could beat it. We began an intense treatment regimen that took place every two weeks in California. We live in Arizona and for the first four months his dad drove him out to Santa Monica every two weeks. The chemo made him violently ill and it would take a week for him to recover. By the time he was scheduled for tumor removal, I quit my job and became his full time caregiver. On June 30, 2009, which was his 22nd birthday, Joey underwent an eight hour surgery which replaced his tibia, fibula and his knee. For six months things went very well and he was even able to walk again. In January, they removed more cancer spots that showed up in his knee. By February, he began limping again and before long he was back on his crutches. I called his orthopedic surgeon and he wanted him there immediately. We packed up and drove to Santa Monica and the news was grim. He was to be amputated. Like with everything else he’d been through, he dealt with that blow with his usual courage. By May, fluid started collecting in his left lung which had to be drained regularly. I slowly watched my son fade. More surgeries were attempted to help the lungs but nothing did. The trial drug he was supposed to get on was postponed due to side effects and he was getting weaker by the day. On June 11, 2010, my son took his final breath. He fought hard but his body was tired. He will always be my hero.
Words of Wisdom: The only words of wisdom I can possibly think of are to never give up hope. No matter how dire the circumstances are, your loved one can never see you give up. I prayed with my son every day wanting a miracle, but in the end I realized it isn’t always what WE want. I have to rest in that.
Role of the Sarcoma Foundation of America: Once Joey had passed away, I became angry that there was no cure for this type of cancer. I became obsessed with researching and was horrified to discover that because sarcoma is considered a “rare” cancer, only a tiny percentage of funding goes to research for sarcoma. This angered me to no extent. Why are our loved ones less important than the cancer victims??? There is so much out there for the other well known cancers. At this point, it became my mission to help with funding for research. Joey’s oncologist steered me towards SFA and I have since done all my fundraising for them only.