‘Only one way to climb a mountain’

The wound where 7 inches of bone and muscle used to be in Chase Smith’s, shown left, right leg is healing.

In October, doctors surgically removed a tumor — and the tissue around it — that had attached itself to the 13-year-old’s leg. Even though he still needs crutches to get around, he hasn’t slowed down. He has been attending classes at Indian Creek Middle School and swimming with the school’s team this winter.

“He remains super positive and optimistic. He’s living up to the whole Chasestrong image,” said Brad Smith, Chase’s father.

“He’s still putting some time in the water, and he comes to school for three or four periods. He refuses to let this get him down. We almost have to force him to rest.”

Chase was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in July after increasing pain and swelling forced him to see a doctor. Ewing sarcoma is rare form of cancer that most often strikes children. Cancerous tumors form in the bones or in soft tissue around the bones, though it can spread to the lungs and bone marrow as well.

In children younger than 15, the survival rate is now 75 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Because it is considered extremely aggressive, Chase’s doctors at Riley Hospital for Children created a treatment plan meant to immediately attack the cancer.

He went to the Indianapolis hospital every two weeks from July to October, alternating between two- and five-day stays for chemotherapy. After it appeared the tumor had stopped progressing, Chase underwent surgery on Oct. 29.

During the operation, surgeons removed bone, muscle and tissue from his right leg. A cadaver bone was fused into the space. Additional chemotherapy started in November and will go through early March.

The Smith family hopes the worst of the treatment has passed. Chase’s blood work hasn’t revealed any additional cancer cells, and his doctors don’t see any evidence of the disease.

Chase then will get regular bone scans to ensure that no cancer is present.

“There’s going to be some things in the future, our worry months,” Brad Smith said. “But there’s only one way to climb a mountain, and it’s one step at a time.”

The Smith File

Chase Smith

Home: Tragalgar

Age: 13

Parents: Brad and Kelli Smith

Cancer: Ewing sarcoma

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.