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Joseph Taylor, Jr.

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Joe is a 15 year old who loves sports, especially swimming, and is a kind and loving young man who always thinks of others before himself.

In December 2016, Joe had extreme pain in his left collar bone, to the point that he cried in the mornings. After three days of tears with no visible trauma to the area, his family scheduled a doctor’s appointment. They ordered an X-ray that came out normal, showing no growth, fracture or abnormalities. The doctor said it could be a bruised bone or bone spur and recommended they get a follow-up in 12-16 weeks.

By the end of January 2017, the pain was unbearable for Joe. There was a lump the size of a golf ball on his collar bone. Even a t-shirt rubbing skin over the lump caused so much pain he would cry for hours.

His mom, Tanya, called the doctor with their concerns, but they requested the family wait 8 more weeks before repeating the x-ray. Joe’s family didn’t want to wait that long though, so they got the x-ray and within a week they confirmed he had high-grade osteosarcoma. Joe started chemotherapy in the middle of February and has had inpatient treatment ever since.

His mother’s hope is that Joe survives and eventually attends college to become a wonderful chef since that’s been his dream since grade school. Joe loves cooking and is quite good at it. After all Joe’s treatment is complete, his mom wants to find a way to pay for him to attend Cincinnati State University’s Culinary Arts program.

“Just this weekend Joe said, ‘Mom, I want to cook you pancakes because you love me so much and you take such good care of me,’” said Tanya. “He goes to the kitchen and he made the best pancakes I think I’ve ever eaten.”

Joe is his mother’s hero because he is the bravest young man she’s ever met! He is never afraid and he goes through his treatment with a positive and caring attitude. At every hospital stay, his care team is impressed with how positive Joe is and he thanks every person from the oncologist to the hospital janitors. To be 15, fighting for his life and never once complain or be negative is a hero in his mom’s book. He also has a strong bond with his sister, who’s always willing to help out.

“She always makes sure she has time for her little brother,” said Tanya. “If I have something going on and can’t spend the night at the hospital, she stays with him.”

Tanya wants others facing childhood cancer to know that at the beginning when all feels hopeless and the treatment seems like it will never end, you must be brave and patient.

To their family, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation means hope that one day enough awareness will be raised that there is as much childhood cancer research as adult cancer research. She also knows it means children fighting cancer will have better treatment options with better survival rates.

Hero Quote: “I will survive because I can’t go!” – Joseph

Information provided by Tanya Buren, Joseph’s mother

Updated October 2017

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Childhood Cancer Heroes