14-Year-Old To Have Leg Amputated After Hurt Ankle Reveals Bone Cancer

A 14-year-old is set to have his leg amputated after complaints of pain in his ankle led to him being diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer.

Alex Perry, from Boardman, Ohio, came home from school one day complaining of a hurt ankle.

"It was hurting really bad. I realized it during gym when we had to do a one mile run. My gym teacher said it was a shin splint. We thought it would go away soon but it didn't," the 14-year-old told CBS-affiliate WKBN on Sunday.

Initially, the boy's parents were not too worried about the ankle pain. But as time went on, their concerns grew.

"I'm like, 'OK you twisted your ankle.' I've done it a million times as a kid, you know, running around," the boy's father, Nicholas Perry, told WKBN.

"A couple weeks went by, he's like, 'Oh my ankle still hurts.' I looked at his ankle, it was really swollen, the tips of his toes were starting to twitch."

The parents took their son to be assessed by doctors and he was eventually diagnosed with stage 3 osteosarcoma in November 2021.

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that often arises in the wide ends of long bones, such as the femur and tibia in the upper and lower leg, and the humerus in the upper arm, although it can begin elsewhere in the body.

According to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in children and teens, and is the third most common cancer in teens overall, after lymphomas and brain tumors.

Around 400 children and teens are diagnosed with osteosarcoma every year in the United States. Most cases occur in children and young adults after the age of 10. The cancer is extremely rare in children aged below 5 years old.

In around 15-20 percent of cases, the cancer has spread by the time it is diagnosed, according to St Jude's. It typically spreads to the lungs, but also sometimes to other bones beyond the initial site.

Perry's parents said they were "pretty scared" after their child's diagnosis, with doctors telling them that the cancer had moved to the boy's lungs.

The 14-year-old underwent chemotherapy that successfully treated the cancer in his lungs, but doctors said they would have to amputate the boy's leg below the right knee because the osteosarcoma had eaten away 80 percent of his ankle bone.

"I grabbed my son. I was crying and he's the one who looked at me and was like, 'Hey, you know what dad, I might lose my leg but at least I'm going to be alive,'" Nicholas Perry said, describing his reaction to hearing the news that doctors would have to amputate.

The 14-year-old has to wait around a month before his amputation procedure. After that, doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

"I know after a certain thing happens, I'm going to be completely fine, I'm not worried at all about the future," Alex Perry said.

The boy's cancer diagnosis came soon after the family had moved to Boardman from New Bedford, Massachusetts.

"We moved here to a fixer-upper that we bought after scrimping and saving for 12 years with in a beautiful neighborhood for our five children to grow up in," the boy's mother, Kathryn Perry, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help raise funds for the family. "Unfortunately soon after my son was diagnosed with stage three osteosarcoma."

"My husband has been forced to quit his job because we do not have any support system, our family and friend support system is in Massachusetts. We have no one to look after our children while one parent works and the other is away with Alexander who is in the hospital more than half the month on and off receiving his life saving treatment. We are living off of our savings and selling valuables to stay afloat," she said.

Any funds raised will go towards paying for a wheelchair ramp so the boy can enter and leave his home, as well as vehicle expenses.

"The hospital Alex is treated at is an hour each way, and our car broke down. We had to have $2,500 in work done last month because my son needs treatment, we can't go without a car. And we have five children. Our car has 130,000 miles on it and is unreliable, and we would like to somehow purchase a handicap accessible vehicle."

"Our savings are dwindling and I am humbling myself to ask for help."

Update: 02/23/22, 06:17 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a photo of Alex Perry.

Bone cancer patient Alex Perry.
Alex Perry, 14, was diagnosed with bone cancer after complaining of a pain in his ankle.