Learning About Bone Cancer
- Kevin Chao is a 15-year-old boy fighting stage 4 osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
- He refused to let his prognosis steal his joy for life or hope that he will recover. Kevin has been creating a community around his story on social media.
- Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer.
- According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common symptoms of osteosarcoma include: bone pain or tenderness, a mass or lump (tumor) that is warm and might be felt through your skin, swelling and redness at the site of your tumor, increased pain with lifting (if it affects your arm), limping (if it affects your leg), and more.
- It’s important to consider opening up to others during your cancer battle. Whether that’s through social media or with a small group of people, you never know how much the support can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.
Kevin’s cancer journey began long before anyone even knew what was wrong.Read More
@kevin.chaoCancer sucks♬ original sound – Turn to Jesus
After follow-up testing and a biopsy, it was revealed that Kevin had stage 4 osteosarcoma.
“I couldn’t really process what was happening,” Kevin said of learning his diagnosis. “I couldn’t come to terms with a terminal illness. I couldn’t really think straight.”
Kevin has undergone several rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation for treatment, but doctors say the tumor is too large for them to operate on.
“They said it was just too big of a problem. The tumour is caking his sacrum and all of the nerves at the base of his spine and pelvis,” Melissa said. “If they could have operated, it wouldn’t have left him with a very good quality of life and chances are 100% that it would return as surgeons would not be able to remove all of the cancer.”
Kevin is on various pain medications, but he refuses to let his cancer journey take away all the things he likes to do. He makes music when he’s feeling creative, and he also enjoys a good video game.
“I love music. I make music and one of my songs has even been played on the radio in Ireland. Growing up, I’ve played a lot of video games. I am just a normal kid … who has cancer,” he said. “At least I can do stuff that I like and it makes my life sort of normal.”
@kevin.chao♬ original sound – Turn to Jesus
Staying positive is also something Kevin likes to do. Not even a stage 4 diagnosis has been able to dim the light inside him.
“I have a lot of faith that I’m going to beat this and everything will be okay,” he said in a TikTok video.
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What Type of Bone Cancer Does Kevin Have?
There are many different types of bone cancer, but the kind Kevin Chao has, osteosarcoma, is the most common primary bone cancer. Still, this cancer itself is fairly rare. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1,000 new cases of osteosarcoma are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Osteosarcoma, also known as osteogenic sarcoma, most often occurs in children, teens and young adults, but it can develop at any age. Most osteosarcomas are found at an early stage – before they have clearly spread to other parts of the body – because of the symptoms they cause.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common symptoms of osteosarcoma include:
- Bone pain or tenderness.
- A mass or lump (tumor) that is warm and might be felt through your skin.
- Swelling and redness at the site of your tumor.
- Increased pain with lifting (if it affects your arm).
- Limping (if it affects your leg).
- Limited movement (if it affects a joint).
- Unexplained fever.
- Broken bone (sometimes this happens after a simple movement).
If you or your child ever experiences any concerning changes to their health, talk to a doctor right away. You never know when speaking up could lead to a very important diagnosis.
Finding Support on TikTok
Through his cancer journey, Kevin Chao has used TikTok to create a community around his story — and he also shares his music. He’s since gone viral.
“My sole purpose doing it was to have videos my family could see in case I died. I started getting a lot of views and ended up with thousands of followers,” Kevin said. “The content I make is just my cancer journey and stuff … but in my biggest video I asked TikTok to spread the word that I wanted this new video game, but I didn’t know if I would make it to the release date … That got 200,000 views.”
@kevin.chao Attention; INSOMNIAC GAMES i have stage 4 terminal cancer and id like to play your new game before i kick the bucket. if we could make this happen that’d be awesome! #fyp #spiderman #insomniacgames ♬ original sound – Turn to Jesus
Though his attempt to get the game didn’t pan out, his video did lead students to host a fundraiser for Kevin and his family via a charity hockey game.
“It’s amazing that a community can do something like that,” Kevin said after watching the fundraiser game via Facetime. “I am really thankful for everybody that was showing support.
“I know I have a lot of people rooting for me. It was just crazy to see how many people were there.”
During a cancer battle of any kind, it’s important to know you are not alone. And other cancer warriors, like Kate Hervey, have found social media to be a great place to find support.
Inspiring College Student, 20, Builds Community on TikTok Sharing Her Cancer Journey During COVID-19
A young college girl studying nursing, Hervey was shocked to be discover she had synovial sarcoma – a rare cancer that can come from different types of soft tissue, such as muscle or ligaments. Her diagnosis came about after seeing her doctor for tenderness and lumps in one of her legs. TikTok became a great creative outlet for Hervey during her battle because the COVID-19 pandemic had forced her to scale back on social activities.
“One thing that was nice about TikTok that I loved and why I started posting more and more videos is how many people I was able to meet through TikTok and social media that are going through the same things,” she told SurvivorNet. “I still text with this one girl who is 22. If I’m having a hard time, I will text her because she will understand. As much as my family and friends are supportive, it’s hard to vent to someone who doesn’t know what it’s really like.”
Dr. Dana Chase encourages those facing cancer to find moments of joy during treatment
Hervey is now cancer-free and says she couldn’t have done it without the love and support of her TikTok followers.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on me through TikTok, which is crazy to say,” she explained. “I can help people go through what I’ve been going through as well.”
Sharing your cancer story for a vast social media audience might not be for everyone, but it’s crucial to consider opening up to others during a cancer battle. Even if it’s with a smaller group, you never know how much the support can help you – or those you share with – unless you try.
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