GOLDEN, Colo. — September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In that spirit, a Golden teen sat down with Denver7 to share his battle with osteosarcoma.
Jordan Obernesser, 15, has a positive outlook on life despite all the challenges he's been through in the past year.
“I just think of the good things and don't think of the bad things as much,” said Obernesser.
Last August, he was trying out for the Golden High School team as a freshman when he noticed something wasn't right.
“I had a pain in my right leg,” said Obernesser.
He got it checked out and found out he had osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. A whirlwind of chemotherapy treatments, along with surgery, followed the diagnosis.
“They couldn't remove the tumor out. It still could've spread if they didn't remove all the bone around it,” said Obernesser.
The avid skier and mountain biker was concerned about remaining active following surgery, so he and his family opted for a procedure called rotationplasty.
“When he cuts out the tumor, he brings up the ankle and connects it to the thigh bone and creates a new knee out of his ankle,” said Dr. Masanori Hayashi, assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado and one of Obernesser’s doctors. “That way, he can fit a prosthetic on his foot, which is now just dangling below his knee.”
Experts with Children's Hospital Colorado say roughly 400 kids and teens across the state are living with childhood cancer right now. They say leukemia is the most common cancer, while osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in kids and teens.
"Things to watch out for are bone pain that doesn't respond to any other treatment or is just persistent," he said. "Some patients persist with fractures that go through their tumor because the tumor is growing through the bone and gets very weak.”
Hayashi also said to take note of lumps and bumps protruding or growing out of the skin.
Obernesser said he's not letting cancer get in the way of his future.
“I’ve seen amputee soccer and have been wanting to try that once I’m healed,” said Obernesser.
Obernesser wanted to share his story to remind others that pediatric cancer awareness is so important.
“Funding goes more towards adult cancers and a little towards childhood cancers,” the teen said.
He encourages others to never give up despite the struggle.
"Just finding little things you can look forward to,” said Obernesser. “I feel like it can help your attitude into going into more treatments and stuff like that.”
Hayashi said Obernesser is in remission and gets checkups every three months. Obernesser is hopeful he can ski with his family this season.