How I Almost Lost My Leg at 8 Years Old

Sarcomas are relatively rare, representing only 1–2% of all cancers. About 12,000 people a year in the U.S. are diagnosed with one. An interesting feature of sarcomas, however, is that it is more much common in children than adults. About 15% of all cancers in children under the age of 20 are sarcomas, between 1,500–1,700 U.S. children diagnosed per year. Still, with 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, it is an uncommon occurrence for an American child.

This is one of the many points in my story where things could have gone wrong.

After going through his own cancer journey, Joey and his dad Chuck decided to shave their heads for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Here is another part of my story where it could have gone a different way.

Out of those 1,500–1,700 children diagnosed in the U.S. per year, I can’t say my story is particularly unique. As a survivor, especially when I was a kid, people often told me how strong I was like I was the one that beat it. I can’t say I ever really believed that, and now that I’m older, I definitely don’t believe it. The truth is, I was incredibly lucky.

Lucky to have a pediatrician who helped diagnose my cancer at an early stage, lucky to have my chemo work and effectively kill my tumor, lucky to have one of the best pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the world treating me, and lucky to have the family and friends support me along the way. Above all else, I’m lucky to live in the time I do. If I had been diagnosed in the ’70s, I probably would have had my leg amputated and maybe lost my life.

Joey continues to share his story and advocate for kids with cancer.



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