Jayden is a 14-year-old cancer survivor whose goal in life is to be the first NBA player with a prosthetic leg. If the NBA does not work out, he will try for Major League Baseball.
Stories of progress, inspiration, and information in overcoming osteosarcoma.
Finding Purpose After a Series of Osteosarcoma Relapses
Jayden was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right tibia in March 2019, at age 10. Ashley Selby-Karney, Jayden’s mom, made the difficult decision to resign from her job as a teacher to care for Jayden as he began chemotherapy. “Being Jayden’s only parent, I didn’t know how this was all going to turn out,” she says.
Amputation seemed Jayden’s best chance of getting rid of the cancer in his leg. It also meant that, once healed, Jayden would be able to play sports again. Jayden had his right leg amputated in June. That September, he received his first prosthetic leg and began physical therapy. He was running again within a couple of months.
“God really provided and did above and beyond what we could have imagined,” says Ashley. From the day they stepped into the hospital, social workers were there to help with gas cards, parking passes, and connections to local resources.
Searching for Normalcy
Jayden’s treatment plan concluded in November 2019. Just three weeks later, doctors discovered that the osteosarcoma had spread to his lungs. Jayden had surgery to remove the cancer, and his scans came back clear. Ashley and Jayden thought that cancer was behind them. Ashley returned to work, and life started to feel normal again.
Still, Jayden’s bout with cancer had taken a toll. One night in early 2020, Ashley jolted out of bed to the sound of Jayden throwing up. It turned out to be just a stomach bug, but Ashley was shaken. “During chemo, Jayden threw up a lot. After treatment, I hadn’t heard that noise for so long.” This experience motivated Ashley to start seeing a Christian therapist to help her process her post-traumatic stress while also nourishing her faith.
A Series of Osteosarcoma Relapses
Unfortunately, Jayden and Ashley’s fight with cancer was far from over. The last several years have brought numerous relapses, including the spread of osteosarcoma to Jayden’s other leg. He has been close to death numerous times, and Ashley counts each recovery as a little miracle.
Jayden has tried a host of treatments — many with terrible side effects — but the osteosarcoma keeps coming back.
“I felt we were running out of options, and with osteosarcoma, that’s not a place you want to be,” says Ashley. Then she found the Osteosarcoma Institute (OSI) on Instagram. Through OSI Connect, she spoke with Lee Helman, MD, the OSI’s director, who told Ashley about a new clinical trial at MD Anderson Cancer Center that Jayden may be able to enroll in. “We are still hoping and praying to get into that trial,” says Ashley.
Finding Purpose Through Pain
For now, Jayden is not currently on any treatments — and that is how he likes it. He is a freshman in high school and plays first base on his school’s baseball team. He looks on the bright side, even cracking jokes about his missing leg. He also spends time using his osteosarcoma relapse and survival story to encourage fellow amputees.
“I feel that our purpose is to give back to this community we have been planted in,” says Ashley. “Jayden has already done a lot to help the amputee world. I truly believe the purpose of his story is to help encourage others who are going through the same thing to believe in healing.”
Ashley’s advice to other families facing cancer: “Find a tribe. It will take a village. Pray. Keep your faith. Trust your doctors, but also educate yourself. Research and statistics can be scary, but they are necessary for the journey.”
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