Eight-year-old Tucker Helstrom is like most third grade boys. He loves hockey and football, and he can often be found running around the backyard and playing with his friends. He’s got a grin that is impossible not to grin back at and now, unlike many other eight-year-olds, he’s begun the battle of his life after being diagnosed with osteocarconoma.
Last fall, Tucker hurt his leg going down a slide. He complained about his leg hurting yet was playing football and running around with friends no problem. “He complained about it a lot but he was running around and playing,” his dad, Fieldstone Phy Ed teacher Judd Helstrom said recently.
Tucker went and saw the doctor who told him to give it two weeks and take the two weeks off from hockey but even then it didn’t improve. After x-rays showed a fractured femur, the doctor ordered an MRI. “It’s actually really rare for kids to break their femur so the doctor wanted to find out more,” Judd explained.
The MRI showed every parents worst nightmare. A tumor in his femur above his knee and the diagnosis of a rare bone cancer, osteosarcoma.
“It usually happens during bone growth,” Judd explained.
The tumor had grown so much already that limb salvage wasn’t possible and just a few weeks back Tucker had his leg amputated.
But that hasn’t slowed Tucker down any. “He went back to school after two weeks,” Judd said, “he’s got a really good attitude.”
As Tucker spends this week at the University of Minnesota Masonic Hospital receiving inpatient chemo, positive feelings and lots of hope are what keep his family going.
That and community support. Hopkins Hockey Association, where Tucker plays Mite hockey, celebrated and supported Tucker this past weekend at their annual Mite Hockey day with a silent auction and benefit. The Minnesota Wild have provided tremendous support and FUN to the hockey loving boy as he recovered for surgery and prepared for another round of chemo.
“We cannot thank our wonderful communities, friends, family enough,” wrote Judd on Team Tucker Go! Facebook page. The family also has a CaringBridge page and Crowdrise page set up. Currently Team Tucker t-shirts aren’t available.
Tucker will continue a week on week off routine of chemo for the next nine months and will be working with the Wiggle Your Toes foundation to help get a prosthetic leg down the road.