For years, bone cancer in the limbs often resulted in amputation, but now a Central Texas surgeon is able to perform a procedure that can save the limb and the patient's life.
It's a god day for 18-year-old Tim Robinson.
"I was going to go swimming for the first time in about three years," he said.
Those three years have been a long road for the former Round Rock High School football player.
When he was 16, he discovered that a bump on his leg was actually a cancerous tumor.
"We were working out and when I went down to squat, it felt like my bone had cracked," Tim said.
Dr. Suzanne Yandow points out what Tim's first x-rays revealed.
"When you see that, you realize that something is almost pasted on this bone so it's forming a bump on the bone," said Dr. Yandow.
Tim had Osteogenic Sarcoma, a bone cancer that often spreads to the lungs. He would have to have part of his leg removed.
It was news that Tim says didn't hit him at first.
"Later on, after the surgeries, sitting in the hospital, it sunk in: I have cancer," Tim said. "My life is going to be a lot different from now on."
Dr. Yandow performed a limb salvage surgery -- a 14-hour procedure.
"You'll take out the section that's got the tumor in it and you'll reconstruct that with donated bone or metal or a combination," she said.
Tim's leg was reconstructed with donated bone and a metal rod.
Dr. Yandow was the first doctor in the Austin area to do a limb salvage surgery and Tim was her first patient.
"For many years a lot of patients had to have amputations," said Dr. Yandow. "If you can have your own limb that you can feel, that has sensation, then that's better."
After months in the hospital, rounds of chemotherapy and time in a wheelchair, Tim has learned to walk again.
"Gradually it got stronger and stronger and the bone started to connect," he said.
Although his football days are over, he's grateful for the things he can do and for the surgery that saved his life and his leg.
"It makes you appreciate stuff a lot more and not take it for granted," Tim said.
Before Dr. Yandow came to Dell Children's Medical Center, patients had to go to other cities in Texas for limb-salvage surgery.
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