Like a story out of Greek mythology, Pano Tsarouhas’s cancer journey started in Greece, but his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma was defeated in Ohio.
While on vacation in Greece, Pano came down with a fever. After returning home, he had an appointment at Pediatrics of Akron expecting an antibiotic would help him feel better.
“Dr. Jain thought his lungs sounded different so he sent us for an X-ray,” said Linda, Pano’s mom. “The scan showed a tumor pushing on Pano’s lung. They sent us to the 5th floor to wait…it was surreal as I began to realize that floor was for cancer patients.”
Five days later, Pano was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The tumor was so large it had pushed his lung about 90 percent closed and was shifting the placement of his heart.
“Dr. Hord was amazing in offering us treatment options – giving us Akron Children’s opinion and helping us navigate other options we wanted to explore,” said Linda. “He wanted, and still does want, what’s best for Pano.”
In addition to chemotherapy, he had two options for the second part of his treatment plan. One option was to have the tumor surgically removed, which would require removal of up to 8 ribs, or nearly half his left rib cage. The other option was proton radiation therapy that would shrink the tumor to a negligible size and kill off cancerous cells around the tumor.
Pano’s treatment plan included 15 rounds of chemotherapy at Akron Children’s, and 33 rounds of photon and proton radiation in Cincinnati.
As Pano kept up with his treatment plan, he also stayed on course at school. The School and Community Oncology Outreach Program staff worked with Pano’s school to arrange online classes and a tutor during treatment so he could complete his freshman year.
After 8 months of treatment, Pano’s scans came back with no evidence of disease. His next task was going to high school for the first time during the final semester of the year.
“He couldn’t have many visitors during treatment so seeing friends was a welcomed change,” said Linda. “He also started working with a physical therapist to gain back strength and stamina for soccer.”
Pano was anxious to lace up his cleats and get back on the soccer field. He not only started the 2019 season, but was also voted captain of the Revere JV team.
Pano graduated from high school this year and will be attending The University of Akron in the fall where he’ll be studying biomedical science.
“Pano is a survivor and we’re humbled by his experience because we know his story isn’t everyone’s story,” said Linda. “We have a huge debt of gratitude to Akron Children’s …what a true blessing it is to have incredible care for kids in our own backyard.”