Jaxon Gorman needed a pick-me-up. Just a few weeks earlier, all he was worried about was a pain he thought was from wrestling. Then suddenly the 8-year-old was learning about scans and tumors, radiation and chemotherapy, and terms like "sarcoma." So when his favorite hockey team — the Austin Bruins — visited him at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, and he joined the players in a team cheer (captured in this video by KAAL-TV), it brought a smile that could fill a hockey rink. And melt a parent's heart. "That smile says it all," Jaxon's dad, Josh Gorman, a supervisor in Mayo's Biospecimen Processing & Accessioning Laboratory in Rochester, tells us. "It had been a while since he'd been that excited."
Jaxon was seen by his primary care physician after he complained about "aches and pains" in his lower back and legs. "Initially, we thought he might have a pulled a muscle while wrestling, so we took him out of wrestling, but it never got better," Josh says. After the pain moved to other parts of Jaxon's body, making it difficult for him to walk, he was referred to Mayo Clinic's Orthopedics department. "They did an MRI, and that's when they found a large tumor on his pelvis," Josh says.
A biopsy helped determine exactly what the family was dealing with. "Ewing's sarcoma," Josh says of Jaxon's diagnosis. "It's a rare bone cancer that's most commonly found in children." And one that, in Jaxon's case, is inoperable — at least right now. "Part of the problem is that his tumor has encapsulated the base of his spine and all of his nerves," Josh says. "Because of that, he's had a lot of neurological issues that have also complicated things. But his care team is hopeful that chemo and radiation will take care of it."
As Jaxon readies himself for a three-month treatment plan, his mom, Terra Gorman, wanted to do something to raise his spirits. She reached out to the Bruins to see if "one of his favorite players and maybe Bruiser, the mascot" would visit him in the hospital. The team said, "We'll do better than that." And last Thursday, the entire team — including owners and coaches — showed up with "balloons, his own No.17 Bruins jersey (Jaxon's birthday is Oct. 17)," a hockey stick signed by the team, and perhaps most importantly, their support in his fight against his cancer. "He was shocked. You could tell it in his face," Josh says of the visit.
For Josh, the only thing better than the visit has been watching Jaxon's team at Mayo in action. "His care team has been amazing," he says. "As an employee, you hear and read about stories like this, but you don't really understand it from a patient perspective. It's been amazing, just in these three weeks, to see his care team pull together and take care of him. It's been very humbling and has made me even prouder to work for Mayo Clinic."
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