Sean is the fiancee of our Project and Services Co-Ordinator Lauren Roden. A happy-go-lucky kind of guy with a mischievous sense of humour, you’d never know he’s a cancer survivor with metal bones in his leg. No, you didn’t read that wrong – Sean has metal bones, or as it’s officially named, an endoprosthetic replacement.
Fondly coined the ‘REAL’ Iron Man by his nephews, Sean has an artificial knee made out of titanium, the material most like bone. This is a result of Osteosarcoma, a diagnosis he received at the age of just 18.
Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that typically develops in the shinbone, the thighbone and the upper arm. It is the most common type of bone cancer in children and teenagers and tends to develop during growth spurts in early adolescence.
More common in boys than in girls, it’s symptoms can mimic growing pains as well as swelling, redness and fractures, often causing sufferers to limp and have limited motion in their limbs.
Sean was studying a BA in Music at Wolverhampton University at the time and was in the midst of second year when he noticed he had an extremely swollen knee. At first, he thought he’d just damaged his ligaments during a football game, but as his symptoms persisted, he realised it could be something much more sinister.
Despite his reluctance, his grand-father persuaded him to have it checked out by a doctor, and after a simple examination, it became clear there was something seriously wrong. He was sent for further tests immediately to determine what was going on beneath the surface.
It wasn’t long before he was told it was cancer.
The NHS worked quickly and samples were taken to understand the severity of the cancer. He was sent for an immediate knee replacement where the bones in his left leg were replaced by thick titanium. Because he had an extremely rare form of Osteosarcoma, samples of his knee were sent off across to UK for research and training purposes.
Luckily, the cancer was contained and hadn’t spread to other areas of the body. But what followed was a long hard fight alongside months of chemotherapy designed to help shrink and kill the cancerous cells that may remain in the hope of preventing further cancers in the future.
Sean said, “My second year at Uni proved to be quite a difficult time but I fought through it. The NHS were fantastic and the support I received during my treatment was second to none. The Teenage Cancer Trust really helped too, guiding me through the process from diagnosis, treatment and recovery.”
Flash-forward 9 years to today, and Sean is approaching his 10th year cancer-free. He still attends 2 regular check-ups a year, one to check his titanium implant, and the other to ensure the cancer has not returned. His appointments are always very positive and offer reassurance to Sean, as well as a reminder, that he is a survivor. A survivor, a fiancee and now – a dad to be!
His fiancee Lauren said, “Following Sean’s diagnosis and treatment, we didn’t think it would be possible for him to have children at all. But here we are, expecting our first child! He’s got such a positive outlook on life and I know he’s going to be a great dad to baby Parkes!”
Sean will need to have his endoprosthetic replaced again in the next 10 years, but that’s a trivial and minor flaw of what could have been a lot worse. Sean said, “You know, some people say why me but I don’t see it like that. I say why NOT me? This was meant to happen to me and without it, I wouldn’t be the strong person I am today, ready to face whatever life throws at me!”
This World Cancer Day, the organisation are encouraging people to pledge their commitment to beating cancer once and for all. We asked Sean and Lauren for their #IAmAndIWill pledge. Here’s what they said:
Sean – I am a survivor and I will continue to support the Teenage Cancer Trust
Lauren – I am the partner of a survivor and I will support the fight against cancer!