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Read Payton Pekarek's Story

In November of 2020, I started noticing left knee pain that would not go away.  I saw a doctor in December 2020 and the doctor sent me to physical therapy.  She thought it was a muscle sprain that was common in teenagers.  I attended physical therapy until the end of January when I returned to college.  During my second semester of my freshman year, the pain kept getting worse so I decided to seek a second opinion from a different doctor in April 2021.  This doctor could not find anything on the x-ray but noticed my left knee was swollen so she referred me onto an orthopedic surgeon in Waterloo.  The orthopedic surgeon scheduled an MRI on my knee in May 2021.  Two days after my MRI the radiologist called and told me to come in for a CT scan because they found a mass in my left knee and needed to rule out a tumor.  After my CT, the radiologist looked at the images and confirmed it was a tumor.  I was then referred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to see Dr. Miller who is an Orthopedic Oncologist in June 2021.  I then had surgery to remove the tumor on June 15, 2021 and the biopsy results came back as a benign osteoblastoma.  

Three months later in September 2021, I started noticing the same exact pain in my left knee.  I waited until November 2021 to tell Dr. Miller about my pain and he scheduled an appointment for me.  He scheduled an MRI and then we found out that the tumor was growing back.  Dr. Miller said he wanted to wait three months to monitor and make sure no other tumors were growing before he surgically removed the tumor again.

I then decided to get a second opinion at Mayo Clinic in Rochester at the end of January 2022 where I saw Dr. Karim, an Orthopedic Oncologist.  I had an MRI and CT done in Rochester and Dr. Karim noticed I had two tumors but thought it was just a reoccurrence of benign osteoblastoma.

I returned to Dr. Miller in February 2022 and we scheduled surgery to remove the tumors for March 22, 2022.  On March 30, 2022, I received a call from Dr. Miller and he proceeded to tell me that this time the tumor was osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer.  The next day I met with Dr. Miller and Dr. Monga who is my medical Oncologist and made a plan for treatment.  I had a PET scan on April 5, 2022, and then inpatient chemotherapy began on April 6, 2022.

Now, I am almost finished with my second full round of chemotherapy and will be having a full knee replacement with a prosthetic on June 24, 2022.  After surgery, I will continue with inpatient chemotherapy for the next eight to 10 months.  I have a long road ahead of me but a lot of prayer warriors by my side!

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