October of 2017 Zach's knee began aching and try as we might we could not think of any specific thing that had caused it. We had his annual checkup and the doc said it was probably sprained and said to return in a few weeks if it didn't get better. As we neared fall break decided that if it wasn't better after Thanksgiving we would have it xrayed. He left to visit his dad in Florida and then to North Carolina to see his grandma (my mom).
When he landed in North Carolina his limp was even worse than it had been and his knee area was now swollen. The long walks at the amusement parks with his dad probably exacerbated it, but that may have been for the best as it became a red flag for my mother.
Super hero, grandmother, world traveler, Dr Mom, Carol Hamilton had him X-rayed immediately. This was 2 days before Thanksgiving. The X-ray was scary. A large white blob below his knee, and "moth eaten" looking grey holes appeared on the image. My mom, an infectious disease doc kne2 this was not good and pretty much immediately thought it must be either a serious bone infection (osteomyelitis) or a childhood bone tumor, Ewings or Osteosarcoma. She arranged an immediate appointment on Wednesday where the Pediatric Surgical Oncologist said he thought this could be infection, while ordering labs and an MRI of the leg. We were skeptical. No fever and the labs didn't match. Maybe he was being nice, letting us have Thanksgiving day free of the cancer word dangling over us or maybe he really believed it could be an infection; regardless we left with a ray of hope that possibly it was infection, bad enough, but treatable with lots of antibiotics.
Thanksgiving was wonderfully normal. We sat by the fire, ate wonderful Turkey and played board games.
Friday, day after Thanksgiving, we went to the hospital where Zach had to go under general anesthesia for a biopsy. Before the biopsy, the Orthopedic Surgeon said the MRI results came back and it looked like it was more likely going to be cancer, not infection. The biopsy would tell for sure, and if cancer, determine the type. That's our beginning...and after research...it sounds similar to many other osteosarcoma beginnings. After Zach woke up from the surgery, Dr. Brigman, the surgeon, gave strict instructions for no weight-baring so its been crutches ever since.