Because of my orthopaedic care, I can now play sports, hang out with friends, ride my bike and most of all be a normal kid, again!
My name is Dugan Smith. At the age of ten, I was your typical 4th grader who spent time playing baseball, swimming, and riding my bike with my friends. I was a typical ten-year-old boy until May 2008 when my whole world changed. I was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. I had no idea what this meant but I went from being normal kid to one whose life became about hospital trips, chemotherapy, medications, vomiting, and losing my hair. I went from being very independent to being on crutches or in my wheelchair, and having my family take care of me like they did when I was a baby. It was a very difficult adjustment.
It all started when I noticed that my right knee was hurting and making me limp. I started to limp, but not all the time. I just thought that I hurt it in a baseball game when I made a sliding catch. A few days later the pain did not go away, it got worse, and I started limping more. My family then took me to see a knee specialist and they did x-rays of my knee. The doctor told my mom that it was probably bursitis. I started going to physical therapy. My knee was not getting any better but my pain was getting worse. I remember some days not really being able to walk at all on it because it hurt so badly.
After a few weeks of therapy, my mom took me back and told them that therapy was only making it worse. Our doctor did x-rays again but not of my knee, but right above on my femur. I remember him telling me to go wait out in the waiting room while my mom and him talked. I remember her getting in the van and telling me we had to go to the hospital and get a MRI. At that time I didn’t think anything of it. A few hours later, I had my MRI, was sent home on crutches. Them telling me I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg at all. I was a baseball pitcher, I was upset because I couldn’t play and had to sit on the bench. I remember still not knowing what my mom and the doctor saw on my x-ray.
By this time it was almost the end of the school year and my class was planning on walking to Dairy Queen on the last day of school. I couldn’t walk on crutches for a long period of time so my mom dropped off a wheelchair for me to use. My classmate were pushing me in the chair and we hit a bump in the sidewalk that tipped the wheelchair over, making me fall in the grass. I don’t remember much during my fall. I remember hearing a “pop” noise in my leg and was in a lot of pain. They got me up and back in the wheelchair. I couldn’t have imagined the pain being any worse; it was like somebody literally stabbed me in my leg.
The school called my mom. My mom picked me up and I would not let her touch my leg. The pain was so horrible and it was very difficult to get into the van to go home. I told her I didn’t want to go to the E.R and that I wanted to go home. I remember her taking me to see my dad and him running out to the van to see me. I wouldn’t let him touch or move me. I asked my mom take me back to her house. Somehow she got me in the house by herself and all I wanted was to lie in her room.
That night my mom and I didn’t get much sleep. Every time I moved it was like needles stabbing me in my leg. So, at 5:45am my mom sent my dad a text telling him she was taking me to the E.R. My dad met us there and I had another x-ray. They told my parents that my right femur was broken and that they saw something else too. I found out later, my parents knew something was on the x-ray but they didn’t tell me because they didn’t know for sure if it was cancerous or a cyst. We left our hospital and drove to Toledo Hospital where they told my parents they couldn’t do anything for me. My parents were trying so hard to be strong and not let me see how scared they were, but I could tell.
That was the day, my whole world changed. My mom and I were transported from Toledo Hospital to Nationwide Children’s in Columbus Ohio. We arrived; they took me to this little room while we waited on my dad to get there. I remember being scared and not knowing what was going on. I knew, I broke my leg and had something in it that was not good.
The next day we met Dr. Joel Mayerson, the man that changed my life forever, he gave me a second chance to play baseball again and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. He was a big part of my life from that day on. Dr. Mayerson took my parents into a separate room explaining why my leg broke and the possibilities of what cancer I could have.
I had a biopsy of my tumor the next day and Dr. Mayerson knew it was Osteosarcoma without it being sent to the lab. That’s when we started my new life.
We were told a lot of information on everything that we were about to start. All of us were very scared. We were all unsure what the future was going to bring. I do remember being told that I had twelve weeks of chemotherapy and that I would have surgery. After this surgery have to continue doing chemotherapy. Surgery, on what, I thought? I had my twelve weeks of chemotherapy and I had a lot of setbacks. The chemo was the most difficult thing about having cancer.
On August 29, 2008 I went into the O.R and never looked back. Rotationplasty is and always will be the best choice for me. My mom and dad let me decide to have surgery because it was going to give me back my life. I look different, of course I do! I now put on prosthesis, everyday, wear it all day and it certainly was/is not easy. It has been going on four years and I still go to physical therapy, I work twice as hard as everyone else but I don’t regret having the surgery.
I am a normal teenager who loves life! I got a second chance at life and I want everyone to know that no matter how hard life tries to knock you down you have to fight to get back up. I am still working on getting back up. Someday I will run without a limp, so watch out world! I couldn’t have done any of this if I didn’t have the best family. They were and still are so supportive of everything I do.
I can’t say enough about Dr. Mayerson he is an awesome doctor! Everyone at Nationwide Children’s Hospital that took care of me is just as great too. Don’t give up just because you hit a speed bump in life.