- Teenage powerlifter Brandon Hackett, now 20, is thankfully walking again after a terrifying Ewing sarcoma last year that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
- Doctors initially mistook the rare tumor, which forms in the bones or soft tissue, for sciatica due to a slipped disc.
- Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or soft tissue. In Brandon’s case, it was at the base of his spine. It is common in adolescents, but younger children and adults (in their 20s and 30s) can also be diagnosed with this disease.
Clearly, this was not the case.Read More
“It felt like my legs were cemented to the floor and I couldn’t even move my toes.”
The 19-year-old athlete had been training for a weightlifting competition in July 2021 when he started feeling back pain and tingling sensations down his legs.
Brandon’s Scary Symptoms
Shortly after getting checked out and subsequently dismissed by doctors, Brandon found himself suddenly struggling to walk after waking up one morning.
All of a sudden, his body just collapsed.
Once again, he did the right thing by going in to get checked immediately, and was once again sent home by doctors.
But then he collapsed for a second time.
“I’m quite a chill person so I wasn’t really too worried but I was confused and thought ‘this is not normal.'”
Finally, after a third trip back to the hospital, the medical staff performed tests and found something was compressing his spine. Brandon needed emergency decompression surgery, which is performed to alleviate pain.
Brandon’s Sarcoma Diagnosis
Eventually, they determined his diagnosis: Ewing sarcoma. Thankfully, due to Brandon’s repeated efforts to get care, he learned that the cancer had not spread, and he began chemotherapy treatment.
Fortunately, Brandon’s paralysis was temporary, and he began to learn how to walk again. It took him six months to regain movement.
“I had to spend an entire week lying on my back to reduce swelling in my spinal cord – it was a relief when I started to get movement back towards the end of the week,” he said.
Brandon is happy to report that his tumor is gone, and from what the doctors can tell, he is now all clear from cancer.
“I was wondering if I would ever be able to walk again. I couldn’t even think about anything else.”
Brandon is back in the gym and is determined to turn his passion into a profession and become a personal trainer. With an inspiring story like that, it sounds like a great choice.
What Is Ewing Sarcoma?
Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or soft tissue. In Hackett’s case, it was at the base of his spine. It is common in adolescents, but younger children and adults (in their 20s and 30s) can also be diagnosed with this disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs and symptoms of Ewing sarcoma include:
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness near the affected area
- Bone pain
- Unexplained tiredness
- Fever with no known cause
- Sudden weight loss
Treatment for Ewing sarcoma depends on the location of the cancer and the size of the mass. A doctor’s course of action may involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Sometimes the aggressive nature of these treatments can cause both short-term and long-term side effects.
It is a lifetime journey for people like Hackett regardless of whether or not they go into remission. Oncologists suggest lifelong monitoring to ensure no complications arise down the road and the disease does not return.
Contributing by SurvivorNet staff.