Markus Antony Hogg is a sweet, caring, handsome, bright and athletic 15 year old, grade 10 student at Mount Carmel. He is beyond athletic, excelling in Football, Volleyball, Shot Put, Javelin and many other sports. Markus came 9th in OFSAA for Javelin and his coaches had just asked to him to be the starting QB on the football team at school. A few weeks ago Markus’ life changed forever. He was taken to hospital after weeks of pain in his leg and lower back. Expecting a sport injury diagnosis, he and all of us were shocked to learn he had a tumour on his spine. A biopsy was taken and after two weeks of increasingly excruciating pain, on Friday October 12th came the devestating and feared diagnosis. Markus has been diagnosed with Chondroblastic Osteosarcoma which is a cancer of the bone cells. Doctors jumped into action and Markus began Chemotherapy the following day. The support from family and friends over this time has been tremendous. The total treatment plan right now is expected to be 29 weeks and he will undergo surgery likely around week 11 (after the second round of chemo). After surgery he will have 4 or 5 more rounds of the chemotherapy. Markus will stay in the hospital for at least a few more weeks (and potentially longer) until his pain levels are manageable - the tumor is affecting the nerves in the spinal chord and causing extreme nerve pain and numbness in his leg as well as affecting his mobility.
We are so lucky to know this beautiful family that gives everyone so much of themselves. This is why we feel like it is time to give back and support them in the tough months ahead. We are looking to help his parents with lost wages, daily parking costs, take out meals and any other expenses that may come up. Do not feel that any amount is too small and any donations would be greatly appreciated.
Both surgeries went basically to plan. The only real surprise was in the first surgery when they found a tumor attached to one of the main arteries and had to get a cardio thoracic surgeon in to remove it. This was not expected as it had not shown up in the previous scans (shielded by the main mass) but thankfully they were able to fix it. The main purpose of the first surgery whenwas to do a lot of prep work from the anterior side of the tumor and to do some cutting to separate the tumor from the surrounding muscle mass. They also removed a portion of his abductor muscle (1 layer) on the left side that was to be relocated to the back to protect the hardware that was to be installed on Thursday’s surgery.
Thursday’s surgery was a marathon at 19 hours on the table. During this surgery they harvested bone from both of his shins (approx. 10” long x 1” thick x 1” wide) which will be relocated to the back. They removed the sacrum and multiple vertebrae that were infected with the cancer, and they finally excised the tumor, which necessitated cutting many nerves to the lower body. They installed titanium rods and screws to reconnect the spine to the pelvis, installed the bone grafts from his shins and relocated some muscle tissue. They also did some nerve grafting where possible to hopefully try and restore some muscle functionality in his lower extremities.
Shortly after the second surgery they discovered a major blood clot in his leg (deep vein thrombosis) that could be potentially be life threatening. Due to the fact that he had the major surgery they couldn’t give him any of the typical anti coagulation drugs required to break it up. So he went in for a procedure under general anesthetic to have a blood filter put into place to prevent a clot if it breaks up from getting to his heart and lungs. Markus was obviously quite upset about this as he thought he was done with surgeries. The filter would stay in place for approximately 2 weeks.
Markus also had another major setback on the 7th of March when he woke up in massive pain. It turned out to be twisted bowels and they had to rush him into another surgery where they had to cut him wide open again and fix. This obviously has set his recovery back by several weeks but he is doing much better now.
Markus started chemo again last week, as they need to make sure all the cancer cells are dead. He will do several more months of chemo which is much more difficult this time around as he is still in a lot of pain from the multiple surgeries. He then has months and years of rehab ahead of him to try and get as much mobility back as possible. He will likely go to an inpatient rehab hospital in between the chemos to get intense physiotherapy.
The doctors expect that he will be able to walk again – most likely with the use of forearm crutches but he will not be running and will most likely not be able to use stairs. If the nerve grafts work, and combined with hard work on his part and some luck he may be able to walk unaided, but this will take a long time to determine.
As a result of this, the family will be making some home modifications to make the house accessible for him. This includes installing a stair lift from the basement all the way to the second floor, installing some ramps and grab bars. Moving some doors (to accommodate the stairlift) and potentially expanding the size of one of the bathrooms to afford him easier access.
I would like to sincerely thank everyone for your thoughts, prayers and all support during this very difficult time for tje family. Thank you also for all of your generous donations to the go fund me account. It has gone a long way in assisting with so many expenses as Markus is still at Sick kids downtown and will likely be transferred to a rehab center downtown again in the upcoming weeks. We will keep you posted as things progress. Thank you again.
After 8 weeks and 2 days in hospital, Markus finally came home Saturday to spend a few weeks at home before having to go back for more chemotherapy on December 10th (he will then be back at the hospital for 2 weeks of chemo, but he may come home for a couple of nights on the weekends inbetween). Week 1 of round 3 is scheduled to be starting Dec 24th but the doctors are happy to postpone it by one week so he can spend Christmas week at home with his family.
Saturday night was the first time we all slept under the same roof in over 2 months and it feels good to be all together. For the last 2 months its only been 3 of us for the most part as Heili, Tiffany or I have been at the hospital. We have set Markus up in the basement where he will have the most room and be comfortable. We moved his bed downstairs and bought a lazy-boy style recliner that will allow him to sit in a comfortable position. The basement also has a walk in shower and private bathroom. There is also lots of room for him to have friends visit and for them to have privacy. He really likes what we have set up for him.
Markus’ pain is largely under control with the wide variety of medications he is on (approx 20 pills a day). The intense nerve pain he felt from the knees down is essentially gone, however he does get pain in his lower back, hamstrings and glutes when walking too much and from being in a seated position too long (hence the lazy-boy). We have had to source a number of items to help him with moving around including a walker, cane and wheelchair as well as other accessibility items. He can walk short distances unassisted but he is quite unstable and needs the aids for anything more than a few dozen feet. He has lost almost 15 kg in muscle mass.
I have been meeting with the surgeons to learn about what we are dealing with and as I have mentioned previously this will be a very, very, major surgery that will need about 5 different surgical specialists and could take as much as 2 days to complete. We don’t have an exact date yet but it will likely be in late January or February. They need to coordinate the schedules of the different surgeons involved. The Surgery will likely happen at Sick Kids with several weeks of recovery and then he would return to McMaster afterwards. More chemo will follow immediately after surgery and then a long road to rehab and recovery
Markus is currently starting week 2 of round 2 and is still feeling quite weak and nauseas from the chemo but we expect him to start feeling much better by mid this week.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported us through the GoFundMe. It was something we never thought we would ever need and it has certainly been a massive help. Heili was able to put her job on hold indefinitely and to not have to worry about that paycheque and to be able to purchase the things we need to facilitate Markus coming home has been amazing.
Finally I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone for all of the support and friendship who have been an enormous help with everything from picking up Teija from school, or sending over food, or just having us over for a couple of drinks and friendship - most especially a big thank you to my parents, my sisters, and neighbors who have been willing and able to help out on a moments notice as we deal with this. It is very much appreciated by Heili and I. Also, a special shout out to the coaches, teachers and students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel who have been amazing throughout all this. The love and support you have shown Markus is incredible.
Visitors are welcome once he starts feeling better – but please still schedule through me so we keep the amount of people at once at a manageable level.
As Markus is immune-system compromised we would please ask that if you are not feeling well to postpone your visits, and I would take it as a personal favor if you went and got your flu shot. Catching the flu could be deadly for him and if there is the smallest chance that the flu shot could prevent the spread it is well worth it in my opinion regardless of what your personal philosophy is about the effectiveness of this vaccine.
As we go through this difficult time as a family, we are blown away at the generosity and support of our friends, family and a frankly a lot of people who I have honestly never met
Markus has obviously had an impact on a lot of people and together with all of this love and support, combined with his fighting spirit I am confident he will pull through this even stronger than he already is.
Markus has seen this campaign online and is just stunned by it. He has said several times that he just can’t believe it.
I never dreamed that we would ever have a gofundme made for our family or ever need to be a recipient of one and we are extremely humbled and thankful to everyone.
Markus had his surgery to have a port-a-cath installed on Saturday morning and had his first two days of chemotherapy on Saturday and Sunday. He has been very nauseous and feeling very crappy and tired these past four days but he is very thankful for the thoughts and prayers and has been drawing strength for them.
Thank you all
David & Heili Hogg
Message from Markus
I never thought this would happen to me. It’s insane the amount of love and support I’ve been receiving. Yeah I have to fight this, but I know I’m not alone.
This past couple of days, I have been going through my first round of chemo. Honestly this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but at least it is a step in getting through this. Everyone that has been checking up on me I would like to say how much I appreciate it.