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Boy Kicks Cancer’s Ass, Gets New Leg, And Starts Playing Football Again

Camden Bailey is a 14-year old from Jackson, New Hampshire, who began experiencing pain around his left knee last January. A dedicated athlete, Bailey tried to play through the pain, icing and resting his need. A month later he began physical therapy. By March, he was limping through basketball tryouts. Boston’s Children Hospital wrote a profile on Bailey’s diagnosis, which finally came when his parents, Jen and Chris, made an appointment with his pediatrician.

Bailey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that is most common among children, adolescents and young adults. His parents were terrified.

In an interview with the Conway Daily Sun, Chris described how he found out.

“My wife called me at work crying in hysterics, starting the conversation with, ‘It’s the worst news ever, Camden probably has cancer,'” Bailey recalled. “It was heartbreaking. How could a normal, healthy, athletic boy be given such a shocking diagnosis? Our world turned upside down at that moment and all of our lives were changed forever, most importantly Camden’s.”

Bailey’s doctor at the Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center helped the family come up with a plan for the teenager’s treatment. First, he would undergo chemotherapy. After his recovery, they would use a treatment called rotationplasty, in which surgeons partially amputate part of the leg, but preserve the cancer-free lower leg and foot. That was followed by a second round of chemotherapy.

“The course of treatment was 40 weeks,” Chris said. “In the beginning, it was three weeks of chemo in a row followed by three weeks off to recover. In July, after his rotationplasty surgery, he switched to a new protocol and that was essentially two weeks of chemo followed by two weeks off. Of course, there were delays because his ‘numbers’ weren’t good enough and he was hospitalized a few times because his numbers were so low. He also had the two lung surgeries, so with everything, it was almost exactly a year. He was diagnosed at the end of March 2018 and finished his last chemo treatment in the middle of March 2019.”

This long recovery hasn’t stopped Bailey from pursuing sports. He is now back on the field, playing on his newly healed leg. Bailey said his community was incredibly supportive of him during his illness. A support group called Camden’s Crusaders was formed by a friend named Sandra Yamartino, holding fundraisers, and providing meals or and family check-ins.

“This community is amazing,”  he said. “I never could have imagined I would get so much support.”

And with his new leg, he’s able to do what any other teen kid wants to do—the things he loves.

Alison Sullivan

Written by Alison Sullivan