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Local 6-Year-Old Fights Rare Cancer

He'll get a steel rod to replace bone in leg.
HOLLIDAYSBURG, BLAIR COUNTY - When their little boy complained of pain in his leg, his parents took him to the doctor. He thought, and so did they, that the problem could be "growing pains."

But it didn't go away, and then another doctor visit which included an MRI resulted in some devastating news. Six-year-old Dominick Devecchis had osteosarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the bone.

It's rare--only 800 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States --half in teenagers and children.

"It sort of felt like it was broken," is how Dominick describes his pain.

His mother Kim says, "we never in a million years thought a limp would turn into something life-threatening. It was terrible."

Dominick had bone cancer in his right leg, above the knee. Since his diagnosis in March, he spends most of his time in a wheelchair but also uses a walker to get around his home in Hollidaysburg. Then, there are the frequent trips to a Pittsburgh hospital for treatment.

As Dominick explains, his osteosaracoma means he has to "go through a lot of chemo and surgery." Right now, he's on alternating rounds of chemotherapy with a couple of weeks off in between.

On June 11, he'll have major surgery to remove the tumor and implant a steel rod to replace part of the bone. The treatment's tough, but Dominick has his own way of coping.

"One time he was asked how bad his pain was and he did say pretty bad and they asked him what would help him relieve it and he said cheeseburger," his father Steve says, smiling.

Probably like other kids, right up there with cheeseburgers are video games. Since Dominick's pretty much homebound, they help fill the hours. He's good, usually he beats his dad.

His parents say Dominick may be only six but he's aware of the bigger issues in his life.

Kim says, "he knows everything. When he gets worried about something, he asks me and we explain it to him."

His dad says the treatment planned for Dominick is usually successful. If it doesn't work, the leg will be amputated.

But the Devecchis's try to stay upbeat. "Whenever we're feeling down, he can really...he's taking it as best as he can and he's a real joy," his dad says.

The family says the support of the community, and their faith are keeping them going and they're making it their mission to raise awareness of sarcoma, which doesn't get a lot of research.
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