Dylan was sixteen years old when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.
Old enough to understand that he had cancer in his bones. Old enough to be angry. Old enough to feel sorry for himself. Old enough to be scared. Only he wasn’t. “I wanted to know my chance of survival. Seventy percent. Pretty good,” he says, matter-of-fact.
Rather than discuss cancer, treatment regimens, remission, surgery – things that dominated his world for the better part of two years – he prefers to talk about the program he’ll be attending at Berklee College of Music in Boston this summer. It’s a five-week intensive course focusing on guitar. Music has always been a big part of Dylan’s life, and it was a big part of his recovery. Although he loves to play the drums, he was able to take his guitar with him during hospital stays, and strum a tune even when he couldn’t get out of bed.
“His strength is what carried the rest of us,” Dylan’s dad, David, says. “He never went to a bad place.”
But for all Dylan’s humor and upbeat attitude, his treatment was hellish. Ten weeks of chemotherapy preceded a marathon fourteen-hour surgery in which the surgeon removed a chunk of Dylan’s femur and replaced it with donor bone and his own fibula – a procedure known as limb salvage surgery. Another twenty plus weeks of chemotherapy followed the surgery, while Dylan learned to walk again. And, his chemotherapy was so intense that it had to be done inpatient. He lost every hair follicle on his body and, already a slender 6’3” in height, lost just about every ounce of body fat.
Despite the interruption to every normal thing in his world, Dylan is on target to graduate with his senior class. Determined not to fall behind, he worked with tutors any time he wasn’t too sick. And now he’s started the college search, hoping to study the music industry. Any school will be lucky to have him.
“Cancer does not define me,” Dylan says.
And as he heads out to a summer carnival with a pretty girl on his arm, it’s clear that it does not.
Diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at 16