Markell is a superstar in the making. In late 2009, he was found to suffer from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, and was immediately referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “I didn’t know much about cancer,” said his mom, Monique. “I was in shock. All I could do was cry.”
Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most — saving kids regardless of their financial situation.
Markell underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy, after which he had surgery to remove the tumor. It was a limb-salvaging procedure, where the diseased bone was replaced with a prosthesis that could be extended as he grew. He then underwent 26 more weeks of chemotherapy, as well as physical therapy.
After treatment ended, Markell returned home and resumed school. Then, in June 2012, his family learned the cancer had returned. They returned to St. Jude, where, unfortunately, his left leg below his knee had to be amputated. Markell again underwent physical therapy and adjusted quickly to using a prosthetic leg. He was home by the time eighth grade started in the fall of 2012.
But in early 2013, Markell’s upper left leg began to swell and hurt. At St. Jude, doctors confirmed the cancer was back once again. This time, Markell’s treatment included surgery to remove the remaining bone and joint in his left leg, as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Despite everything he’s been through, Markell is an outgoing kid who loves hanging out with his friends, watching sports and playing the Wii. “Everyone at St. Jude is so wonderful,” Monique said. “It’s an amazing place.” Markell returns to St. Jude every three months for checkups. Earlier this summer, scans revealed tumor growth on Markell’s spine, and his continuing treatment included four rounds of high dose radiation therapy. Markell’s latest set of scans show the tumors are stable.