Most of my life I have had certain problems with my knees, due to playing a lot of sport. In October 1989, when I was 12 years old, my right knee started waking me up at night. After going to a few doctors I went to a specialist in Ballarat who told me I had adolescent growing pains in my joints.

I disagreed with the doctor and asked him to x-ray my right knee. After the x-rays were taken his attitude changed a lot, because he suspected I had a growth on my femur. I had to have many more tests done including a bone scan which I confirmed that I had cancer.

That meant I was off to the Royal Children’s Hospital to have more tests done. A biopsy showed I had osteogenic sarcoma; shocking to a boy aged thirteen. I started chemotherapy and had methatrexate for four weeks to reduce the tumour. After the tumour had been reduced they operated on my leg. I did not know if my leg would still be there when I woke up. Though the tumour was bigger than they had allowed for they persisted and removed my tumour along with part of my kneecap and half of my femur. This was all replaced with a metal knee joint and femur. 

Once I had recovered from my operation, it was back to chemotherapy for ten more months. This was when I got quite sick but positive thinking, the support of family and friends, organisations such as Challenge and the dedication of the doctors got me through.

In December 1991 I had a regular follow up x-ray which showed a lump in my lung and a CT scan confirmed that it was a secondary tumour. 

I was lucky in that all that was needed was the removal of the tumour and some lung. I did not need to have follow up chemo. 

I still have trouble with my leg and back because of weakness and leg length differences. In the very near future I will need to have my knee and femur replaced. I am very happy that I kept my leg.

Looking back, of course I would have preferred to have never had cancer. But I did and if it wasn’t for people like Keith Waters, Mary McGowan, Dave Rogers and Bob Dickens and, of course, my family, things would have been much harder to take.

Shawn Lehrer (2002)