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Walt McGrory's Fight Against Osteosarcoma

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Hi, my name is Walt McGrory. Honestly, I never thought I would be in this situation. I grew up in Southwest Minneapolis playing several sports. At Edina High School, I found my passion for basketball and ultimately went on to play at the University of Wisconsin. We won a Big Ten title. I graduated with a degree in Economics. Life was good!

In the Spring of 2021, I was ready to start my 5th and final year of college basketball and pursue my MBA at the University of South Dakota. I had had 3 hip surgeries in the past year, so when I noticed a hard lump in my left shin, I brushed it off. I had bigger things to worry about I thought. But eventually the pain reached a point where that lump bothered me more than any hip rehab. In August of 2021, at age 22, I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer.

I came to terms that my final year of collegiate basketball was a thing of the past. But I never could have imagined the journey that lie ahead.

Limb salvage surgery to remove the tumor, and 6 months of chemotherapy left me cancer free. I was set to embark for California to start a job and live the life I wanted to build. The last thing on my checklist was the first 3 month PET scan post remission… and the news wasn’t good.

The tumor was back, this time behind my knee. Again, life was put on hold. 4 months of chemo and immunotherapy later, I had my second limb salvage surgery to remove the tumor.

But any hope of being cured was quickly put to rest when the scans 2 months post-op showed the tumor had already returned.

I was told at this point, amputation was the only option. I still didn’t believe it. But each scan showed the tumor getting bigger. It reached a point where I was on crutches with no function in my lower leg, and the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep for a month straight. When the scans showed the cancer spread to my lungs- it was the final straw.

Since my amputation on April 7th, the battle has been fought in my lungs. No treatment since then has slowed the tumor growth. On August 17th, I had a thoracotomy to remove the tumors in my left lung. Unfortunately, what the surgeon found was worse than expected. Around 20 tumors were able to be removed, but 30-40 were not resectable.

The plan had been to have another surgery on my right lung after I recovered from the first surgery. But given the amount of tumors discovered and still remaining in my left lung, we decided to postpone any further surgeries until the tumor load stabilized or decreased through other treatments.

This has been a long road. In the past 2 years since diagnosis, I have been on some type of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or recovering from surgery for all but 3 months. I have had 8 surgeries. I’ve used 16 different chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs. I’ve spent 94 full days in the hospital and another 78 days of travel for various treatments, procedures, and surgeries, many of which weren’t covered by insurance. Currently, there is a bone spur at the end of my amputated leg that makes it too painful to wear my prosthetic but can only be resolved with surgery. This, combined with losing function in my leg starting a month before amputation, has forced me to spend the last 7 months on crutches. Overall, 10 of my past 24 months have been spent on crutches.

There have been lonely days and dark nights of the soul. But I have never been more optimistic than now. There is a cure out there. I have been knocked down countless times, but I will keep picking myself up until we find it. This disease has taken a lot from me, but it will never take my uncompromising will.

I’ve been through all the known treatment protocols that cure osteosarcoma. None of these options have helped me. At this point, the only treatments insurance will cover are clinical trials. We’ve been told by oncologists that for osteosarcoma, clinical trials only help about 10% of patients. While insurance will only cover these options, there are many exciting new treatments that have “too little patient data” to be covered. But the reality is, anything we try now is experimental.

My family and I would greatly appreciate your help, so we can keep fighting this battle to our greatest ability. Any contribution to this fund will go towards using the most promising breakthroughs in cancer research, layering multiple treatments together, and traveling anywhere necessary to receive these therapies. Without having to worry about the cost of these regimens, we have many more exciting possibilities available to us.

No words can express my gratitude and appreciation for your willingness to help my family and me in this quest for a cure. Your kindness and love gives me the strength needed to win this fight no matter how many rounds it takes.

Honestly, I’m tired of telling this story of my past. What excites me is telling the story of my future. It’s close, I can feel it.

Thank you for joining the battle!

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Donations 

  • Anonymous
    • $500 
    • 3 mos
  • Scott Cessna
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $80 
    • 3 mos
  • Jonathan Good
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
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Organizer

Walt McGrory
Organizer
Minneapolis, MN

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