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Cancer patient at Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital shares his story in honor of Sarcoma Awareness Month

Washington University School of Medicine

If there’s one message Logan Hernandez, 20, of O’Fallon, Ill., wants to share with other kids his age who may receive a cancer diagnosis, it’s this: “Be grateful and focus on the good in your life, because life is precious – don’t take anything for granted.”

Logan was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, at the age of 17 – only a few months before the COVID pandemic began in the U.S. According to AACR (American Association for Cancer Research), in 2022, approximately 3,900 cases of bone and joint cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States. This is why Logan wants to help spread awareness for Sarcoma Awareness Month.

“This shouldn’t happen to children or young adults,” Logan said.

Before Logan was diagnosed, he said he had been preparing his entire life to join the Air Force. Being the son of military parents, it had been his lifelong dream to be a pilot in the Air Force, and to one day become an astronaut. He was told if he wanted to be accepted into the Air Force Academy, he needed to be involved in a sport, so he tried out for the cross-country team the summer before his senior year of high school.

Unfortunately, Logan’s cross-country journey was cut short because he fell and hurt his knee.

After taking him to the doctor, Logan and his mom, Olivia, were originally told it was runner’s knee, which is a common misdiagnosis for osteosarcoma. Weeks later, as Logan’s pain worsened, they figured at the most it would be a hairline fracture. After a series of X-rays, scans and a biopsy – their worst fear was confirmed: It was cancer.

“I didn’t know how to take it at first,” Logan said. “All I could think was, how am I going to run?”

When he was told he could no longer run on it due to the high risk of the bone breaking and the cancer spreading, reality set in that if he couldn’t run, he couldn’t join the Air Force. But Logan didn’t let his cancer diagnosis define him.

“It was hard to hear the news, but I knew I had to stay positive and keep on living my life,” he said. “There was no point in moping around. I had to fight.”

Logan started chemotherapy and then underwent surgery in January 2020 at Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to remove his femur where the cancer was located and replace it with a prosthetic. He then continued his chemotherapy treatment. Due to his lack of an immune system because of the chemo, Logan says he was “quarantined before the quarantine” that began for many in the U.S. in April 2020. But in June, the cancer had gone into remission, and he was able to walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.

However, his oncologist, Amy Armstrong, MD, a Washington University pediatric oncologist at Siteman Kids, later discovered that the cancer had moved to his lungs. He had 13 nodules removed from both of his lungs, but over time, the cancer continued to grow in his lungs, as well as spread to some of the bones in his body. Still, Logan remains hopeful. He is currently receiving a treatment plan combining immunotherapy with a targeted oral therapy based on collaboration through Siteman’s Adolescent and Young Adult Sarcoma Program.

Logan has recently gotten into creating art and donating it to local nonprofits who help kids with cancer like him. He hopes to inspire others diagnosed with sarcoma to “live life to the fullest.”