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Diseases

Anthony’s story

“My 16 year old brother, Andrew, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February 1995. He was a typically active teenager who grew up idolising the Hawthorn football club. He played lots of sport so when he complained of a sore knee my parents weren’t too concerned.

When the pain increased in the next couple of weeks, my dad took him to see our GP. He said Andrew was experiencing growing pains and that it should pass. Over the next week the pain in his leg became worse and was accompanied with redness and swelling. Eventually an orthopaedic specialist took x-rays and sent them to a surgeon. We were then told that Andrew had a malignant bone tumour called osteosarcoma and the chances of survival were around 75-80%. The surgeon seemed quite positive but the initial diagnosis floored us.

We had never heard of osteosarcoma but soon found out it was most common in teenage boys. When you hear the word 'cancer' your natural reaction is one of fear. My brother and I were close and played a lot of sport together so one of my first reactions was worrying about whether Andrew would be able to play competitive sports again. My parents were very courageous and tried to keep a positive frame of mind, even though at times this was tested. They also had three other kids in primary school so it was a juggling act to make sure we were taken care of as well.

Andrew had a bone graft operation that involved replacing his knee with a donor bone, meaning he would no longer be able to run around. After receiving this news, he had to endure months of chemotherapy. It is very hard to watch people go through something like that and when that person is your own brother, it is 100 times as difficult.

Unfortunately, 6 months after Andrew's diagnosis we were told that the cancer had spread to his lungs. Within a year he had passed away.

I hope that one day more advanced and less invasive treatments and even cures are found. It is very encouraging to hear that research is being conducted on osteosarcoma. I would like to think that more advances have been made since my brother’s death and that no-one else would have to endure what he and others have gone through. Andrew is very much still close to our hearts and I know he would be extremely grateful for the research being undertaken at SVI in the hope of one day finding a cure.”