Jaryd Ryan Smith, 12 years old boy from Johannesburg was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma the day after his 9th birthday.
“One day Jaryd came home from school with pain in his leg which he thought was caused by a kick (two boys were fighting at school and Jaryd was accidently kicked in the cross fire). We took him for X-rays, but the doctor completely mis-diagnosed it, and only two weeks later when he had severe pain, we took him for more X-rays and when we were sent to specialists, we knew something was very wrong. A biopsy the day after he turned 9 confirmed that he had cancer,” Belinda Smith, Jaryd’s mother explained.
Ewing’s Sarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer that affects children – can occur any time during childhood and young adulthood, but usually develops during puberty, when bones are growing rapidly. A study has revealed that the cancer is 10 times more common in Caucasian children than African or Asian.
How did this disease change the Smith’s lives?
“It took us a long time to get over the shock and to come to terms with the fact that our son had cancer. I don’t think one ever really gets over it. We have learned to never take anything for granted and treasure each moment that we spend with our children and loved ones. We still have to go for follow-up tests every 12 weeks and those days are tough, it helps that Jaryd gets on really well with all his doctors,” says Belinda.
As soon as Jaryd was diagnosed, the family met with their oncologist and immediately stared him on aggressive chemo therapy a process that went on for 6 months. During his second week of chemo, his hair started falling off, at this stage, thankfully the pain in his leg had subsided. The tumour also shrunk remarkably leading to a limb save operation, where his femur (thigh bone) was removed and replaced with his fibula (calf bone) from the same leg. This was then followed by another 6 months of maintenance chemo.
Jaryd had numerous blood and platelet transfusions during his 6 months of chemo. Jaryd is now a happy and energetic boy, doing well at school and participating in his favourite sport, Cricket. He runs around, swims and plays, the only sign of his battle with Ewing Sarcoma…the scar down his leg!
(Press release, SANBS, October 2012)