While at a dirt bike race in June of 2012, Brandon O’Donnell noticed some pain in his left knee. At first he thought he had torn his meniscus, so the next day he went to his orthopedic surgeon to get an MRI.
The MRI revealed the cause of his pain was osteosarcoma, a common form of childhood cancer and the most common form of bone cancer.
Osteosarcoma usually develops during growth spurts, and although Brandon was 20 years old and no longer growing, it wasn’t uncommon for this to occur.
At first, Brandon was overwhelmed at the thought of having cancer. He remembered friends and family who had gone through similar situations and it was hard for him to find hope.
However, he quickly realized that having a positive attitude would make the battle easier on himself, his family and his friends.
Brandon was referred to orthopedic oncologist Scott Weiner, who collaborates with Dr. Jeffrey Hord and the team in Akron Children’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Under Dr. Hord’s care, Brandon received chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. After 3 months of chemo, he was ready for Dr. Weiner to remove what remained of the tumor, along with part of the bone surrounding it.
“The care I received in the Showers Family Center was second to none,” said Brandon.
The surgery involved removing a large part of his lower femur where the tumor was located, 2 inches of his upper tibia and the entire knee. Dr. Weiner replaced the bone that was removed with titanium rods and a knee joint.
After surgery, Brandon underwent additional chemo to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
Although he returns for regular check-ups in Akron Children’s childhood cancer survivorship clinic, Brandon is now a senior at Bowling Green University, where he’s majoring in finance.
After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in the insurance industry. On July 18, he will marry his fiance, Kelly.
His only lingering problem is a small limp, but otherwise Brandon can get around just fine.
He knows it’s a small place to pay for the bright future that lies ahead of him.