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Sam is an all-around hilarious and wonderful 19-year-old with a talent for making people laugh. He is a phenomenal artist and an adventurous outdoorsman spending his days in nature, camping or hiking. Above all, Sam is a kind individual who always acts out of a deep consideration for others even as he battles cancer.
In winter 2015, Samuel wiped out while skiing and injured the area encompassing his hip and groin. His parents thought little of it and thought that ibuprofen might resolve what seemed like a pulled muscle. At first the pain dissipated, but between gym class and fun with friends, it soon found its way back. As the pain grew more frequent and severe, Sam was sent from doctor to doctor to discover the issue. Eventually, a biopsy with an orthopedic oncologist revealed that he had cancer, and a pediatric oncologist narrowed it down to stage IV Ewing sarcoma.
Luckily, the orthopedic oncologist recommended a doctor he had met in college – Dr. John van Doorninck at Rocky Mountain Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Despite being located six hours away, this option was closest to Samuel’s home, and his family began traveling back and forth between Denver, Colorado, and their hometown in South Dakota. With the sarcoma metastasized to his lungs, Sam only had a 30% chance of beating his cancer, but he never gave up.
Sam started with nine months rotating on and off with intensive chemotherapy. After that, he moved onto a month of daily radiation treatment that concentrated on his primary tumor and lungs. He spent all of eighth grade living away from home with his extended family while his parents traded off weeks in Denver and South Dakota. Through it all, Samuel only spent three weekends at home, but he persevered.
Today, Sam is in remission, and his family couldn’t be more excited to watch him thrive. His parents are in awe of the way he’s managed to put his trials behind him. Even though he’s open to talking about his cancer, Sam knows he is more than his diagnosis. Even when he was in the hospital, Sam’s smile was infectious, and his nurses couldn’t help but laugh with him. Even today, he maintains that positive attitude.
Sam’s parents want other families to know that even on the darkest days, there are a lot of people fighting for you. Each morning they were thankful for even one more day with Samuel after hearing his daunting diagnosis. Meeting other families with kids who beat the same odds as Sam gave them hope. Now that Sam is in remission, his family is paying it forward by being there for other families.
Sam’s family is grateful for organizations like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation that give hope, courage and strength to those who need it most. They appreciate the sense of community and support amongst people fighting for a cure. Now they share Samuel’s success story with others to empower those still fighting.
Information provided by Christian, Sam's dad
Updated August 2021
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