Ewing Sarcoma: Malcolm's Story

The summer of 2009 was turning out to be a good one for 11-year-old Malcolm Foggio-Sutherland. School was out; he was one of a select group to make the team for soccer camp; and he was enjoying hiking during the dog days of August. 

malcolm But before summer ended, the first sign that all was not well would appear.

"Malcolm had hip pain while hiking'" recalls his mother Julie, "but he had just made the team for soccer camp and wanted to pursue that special honor." 

Although Malcolm made it to soccer practice, his hip hurt too much for him to continue and his mom took him to see an orthopedic specialist.

"The orthopedist said that Malcolm's growth plate had popped and that if he rested for a few weeks, he would be back to his old self again," Julie says.

Four weeks later, however, Malcolm was still in pain and soon resorted to using a wheelchair at school. By Thanksgiving, he looked gaunt and sickly.

A scan taken after Thanksgiving showed what mom had feared all along — that Malcolm had a cancer called Ewing's sarcoma in his pelvic bone. The cancerous tumor was the size of a melon, and had grown from his ribcage halfway down his thigh.

Luckily, it was still localized and had not yet spread to the lungs.

Surgery and chemotherapy

After a week of surgery, tests, scans and a definitive diagnosis at the Cancer Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Malcolm began weeks of chemotherapy.

His oncologist at CHOP, Richard B. Womer, MD, was one of the co-writers of the treatment protocol for Malcolm's type of cancer and one of the top specialists in Ewing sarcoma. And his orthopedic surgeon, John P. Dormans, MD, is one of the top pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the world for limb-salvaging bone cancer surgeries.

For the next 10 months, CHOP was Malcolm's home-away-from-home when he received inpatient chemo and visited the outpatient oncology clinic. After the fifth round of chemotherapy, scans revealed that the tumor had shrunk enough that Dr. Dormans would be able to save Malcolm's leg.

Dr. Dormans performed a surgery called a hemipelvectomy to remove Malcolm's hip and attached the top of Malcolm's femur to his pelvic bone so he could walk without a hip on that side of his body. Malcolm wore a body cast for six weeks, while continuing to receive chemo treatments, and followed that with wearing a body brace for another eight weeks.

By then, the summer of 2010 had arrived, and Malcolm would spend this summer learning how to walk without a hip.

"I was glad school was over because it was a lot of hard work getting through the end of chemo and starting to walk," says Malcolm.

Cancer remission 

After fourteen rounds of chemo, Malcolm finished his treatments but he cannot officially call himself a survivor until he is 21 because the remission period for Ewing's sarcoma is 10 years.

Malcolm likens his battle to fighting a war and says all the young warriors who fight cancer need to be recognized. He called attention to their plight by selling handmade wristbands, which he sold for $3 each, to raise research funds for pediatric cancer research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Malcolm is now in remission and divides his efforts between school and promoting a new foundation to raise awareness of childhood cancer and funding for pediatric cancer research.

Originally posted: July 2011

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