Meet Jaiwen Hsu of Bethesda, Md. Back in 2010, Jaiwen was like lots of 6th graders. He was an active soccer player and played hard on the field. One day after a penalty kick, he felt some pain in his leg. After a couple of weeks of practices and games, the pain got worse. So his mom, Jeng, brought him to the doctor for x-rays to find out what was going on.
"In a matter of a couple of hours, everything changed," said Jeng. "Looking back now, I realize all that time we were in the doctor's office waiting for the results, which I thought -- and was kind of annoyed -- was taking longer than it should, the doctor was lining up all the resources we were going to need before breaking the news to us."
Not a hairline fracture. Not a "simple" break. The diagnosis: Osteosarcoma. Bone cancer.
The doctor told Jeng they had to go for an MRI directly from his office, that he had made arrangements for Jaiwen to meet with doctors at Children's National Medical Center and to have further tests there. "He had already made all of the appointments for us,” recalls Jeng.
Jaiwen went through chemo and had his left femur removed and replaced with a prosthesis. He was faced with the challenge of learning to walk again. All the while, his parents, brother and sisters enveloped him in love and support as they camped out in his hospital room with him at Children's National. When asked how he kept his motivation, Jaiwen recalls advice from his brother, "He shared a quote with me: 'Pain is weakness leaving the body.' That stuck with me."
After missing most of 6th grade, Jaiwen's goal was to go back to school and start 7th grade without crutches or a cane. And he did it. Beautifully. Triumphantly.
Fast forward to this summer, Jaiwen needed a broken component of his femur prosthesis in his leg replaced – more surgery, more pain. But he is constantly reminded of his strength through the powerful and expressive artwork he did while at Children's National from 2010 to 2011. He is getting ready to start physical therapy again.
Now, Jaiwen has two immediate goals: (1) To start high school by walking in problem-free on the first day of class on August 26, which is also his 2-year anniversary of his cancer being in remission; and (2) to walk in the Race for Every Child 5k on October 5 with his family, including his grandmother, who are walking as a team named for him -- The Jai-Walkers -- to raise funds for Children's National. He's even set a longer term goal: Torun in next year's Race for Every Child.
One of Jaiwen's favorite t-shirts is from a popular sports clothing store, it says "Pain" on the front and on the back: "Never heard of it." He is looking forward, walking forward, strong and determined.
To see more of Jaiwen's story, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYqqqHfBwwU.
Please consider running or walking in the Race for Every Child to celebrate children's health and support Children's National - more info at raceforeverychild.org.