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Balian is a one-of-a-kind 13-year-old with a huge mind that’s always looking to absorb more knowledge. He loves to pass the time learning about sharks, flipping through fact books or watching videos on YouTube about different theories. Balian enjoys eating his fruits and vegetables but not as much as he enjoys a nice steak, a cold slushie or some fresh microwave popcorn. Like many people, Balian likes to feel like he’s in control, so it is a struggle for him to let people constantly touch him during the time he spends in the hospital.
In September 2018, Balian awoke one day with minor pain in his right thigh. The emergency room doctor wrote it off as an extreme charley horse and suggested some ibuprofen and ice to set it straight. A week later, Balian’s pain became so extreme he was unable to bear any weight on his leg. He returned to the emergency room where he was immediately sent for an X-ray and some bloodwork. Then another doctor discovered a mass around the femur, and that same day Balian and his mom traveled three hours to the University of New Mexico Hospital. There, Balian was diagnosed with chondroblastic osteosarcoma.
Balian spent the next two months in the hospital. He was released on his twelfth birthday. Since his diagnosis, he has been on five treatment plans. Balian has undergone chemotherapy, several surgeries and the amputation of his right leg. Still, he continues to fight each day.
Balian’s mom, Erin, hopes to one day see her son grow into adulthood and experience all that life has to offer, including college, dating, marriage and having children of his own – Balian already has a special touch with toddlers. She just wants him to have the chance to live.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Balian was traveling weekly to biweekly for treatment. Now, he has converted to home health care with some scans that require traveling three hours away. It has been challenging for them, having little contact with the oncologist. Although Erin is always available to answer their questions, they miss the reassurance of seeing their health team face-to-face. Balian used to travel with his mom and his grandmother for treatments, so it’s been challenging to carry on without his Grammy there for both moral and physical support.
Although Balian’s journey has been an unexpected one, his mom is grateful for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) helping them through it. Erin hopes that by sharing Balian’s story through ALSF, they can help to lift people’s spirits and let other families know they are not alone.
Information provided by Erin Tsosie, Balian’s mom
Updated June 2020
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