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Adam Dixon

Adam has always been an active person. He enjoys life and is not content to watch it from the sidelines but rather participates fully in all activities possible. This would be put to the test when he was 10 years old.

In November of 1999 Adam came home from swimming class complaining of a sore leg and we put it off to another bump or bruise he was prone to with his non-stop activities he was always involved in. Adam woke up the next day still complaining about his leg. Upon closer examination there appeared to be some swelling in his right calf but that did not deter him from attending his early morning hockey practice and school. He came home from school still in pain and suffering from the chills. He went to bed early stating he didn't feel well but woke up at 9:30 from the pain and could not get back to sleep because it hurt too much. I know my son, and he is not a complainer, so I decided to take him to emergency at 10:30pm. Something was not right for him to be in so much pain.

While we waited to see the doctor, a nurse took a look at Adam's leg and said it was probably just a hematoma and that we were worrying for nothing. Thankfully, the doctor was more concerned and scheduled x-rays and blood work for the next morning. They took the initial x-rays and the technician called me back to view the results. The film showed deterioration of the tibia. In shock, I asked what I do now. My heart sank when he replied "love him as much as you can." I returned to the waiting room while they took additional x-rays at different angles. We were told not to leave until they contacted our family doctor. From the hospital we went directly to our doctor's office. He immediately ordered a set of chest x-rays. I was thinking "It is his leg that hurts why are they taking x-rays of his chest?" After viewing the films and several phone calls, the doctor thought the best course of action was to drive 150 km to Sick Kids and go to their emergency dept armed with the x-rays and a letter from him. In Toronto, after viewing the x-rays, Adam was admitted for further testing. By now Adam had developed a fever and the pain in his leg had become worse.

The next day Adam had a cat scan to determine if this was an infection, a benign tumour or cancer and he was also scheduled for a MRI. We then met with Dr. Burrows who informed us it was cancer but further tests had to be done to determine the type. Adam was scheduled for a biopsy. Even with the biopsy they could not make a quick diagnosis and we had to wait another 3 days until they informed us Adam had Ewing sarcoma.

We were discharged from the hospital with a temporary cast to protect his leg. He was told to take it easy because he was a high risk for breaking the already damaged bone. To us this meant no physical activities, to him it meant playing 1st base with a pinch runner and playing goalie. We had to redefine the rules. We went home to wait for a call telling us when Adam would be re-admitted to the hospital for his next treatment. Once home I went into overdrive trying to search the internet for any information I could find, which wasn't much. Survival statistics were frightening.

A week later he was back at Sick Kids to have a port surgically implanted in his chest for his chemo treatment. He also had some bone marrow removed from his pelvis to check for abnormal cells. They outlined his treatment plan; 12 weeks of chemo and then an assessment would be done to see if the tumor has shrunk enough to be surgically removed. We were advised that Adam's total treatment would be 50 weeks. Adam didn't respond well to his first treatment and it took a bit before they found the right combination of anti nausea drugs. So we settled into our new routine, Adam & I travelling to Sick Kids for his treatments, his father stayed at home with his sister and came to visit us on weekends. I became an expert on reading his blood counts and figuring out what he would eat to keep his weight up.

In late Dec. the orthopedic surgeon visited us to tell us surgery would probably be in late Feb and that there is a possibility that Adam may have to have his knee replaced if the cancer has penetrated that far. The surgery was on Feb 15/2000. We arrived in the O.R. waiting room at 7:30am. We were one of the first set of parents there and the last ones to leave. Adam's surgery took 10 hours to perform but we were lucky enough that the knee did not need to be replaced. He had 8" of his tibia removed and replaced with a donor bone (a humerus bone from a 58 yr old man), secured with a metal plate, and screws, surrounded with bone chips taken from his hip. He spent the night in ICU and 2 weeks recovering from surgery after which he was moved back to the oncology dept. to resume chemo.

We continued with the 50 week protocol with a few bumps along the way, fevers, cellulitis, shingles, toro virus and one of the chemo drugs damaged his heart. During our time at Sick Kids we only met one other family whose child was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. We would meet in the kitchen, compare notes and trade information we found; which wasn't much. I would have loved to have a website like this one that I could have turned to for information and support.

Fortunately, Adam's story has a happy ending. He is now 28, living a very active life and is a member of Team Canada's Paralympic Sledge Hockey team, but there is always that lingering fear that the cancer may come back. We are grateful for The Ewings Cancer Foundation of Canada and for their dedication to researching this type of cancer.

Sue Dixon