The gold ribbon stands as a symbol for childhood cancer awareness. It’s a symbol that Joseph Frushon Sr. proudly wears on the back of his shaven head at the request of his son, Joe Jr.
In December 2012, 10-year-old Joe from Dupont, Pa., an avid football and basketball player, began limping and complaining of pain in his left leg. After an X-ray revealed a mass, Joe was referred to the Pediatric Oncology Department at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville. Under the care of pediatric oncologist Jagadeesh Ramdas, MD, and orthopaedic oncologist Thomas Bowen, MD, Joe was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a common type of bone cancer most frequently seen in teenage boys.
Presented with several treatment options for young Joe, the Frushons chose reconstruction with a growing prosthesis, which would allow their son to keep his leg.
After undergoing chemotherapy to shrink his tumor, Joe was ready for surgery. Dr. Bowen removed the tumor along with a portion of bone, then inserted a metal rod into Joe’s leg to connect and strengthen the remaining bone structure. Dr. Bowen also inserted a doughnut-shaped magnetic device near Joe’s knee, which would serve to lengthen the rod as he grew.
“We had a great experience at Geisinger,” says Joseph Sr. “They diagnosed Joe quickly and got him the treatment he needed.”
Once Joe’s surgery and chemotherapy was complete, he showed no further signs of cancer.
Today, the high school student towers over six feet tall, and his prosthesis is almost fully extended. Periodically, Joe returns to Danville to undergo lengthening procedures, which involve a technician using external magnetic force to extend his prosthesis.
“When my son was going through this, I told him, ‘I’ll do anything you want me to do,’” recalls Joseph Sr. “The ribbon tattoo is what he chose.”