"I got hit in a football game and my knee got sandwiched," said Fond du Lac senior Ian Lock.
After breaking his wrist and missing his entire freshman baseball season, he thought he escaped major injury this time. Team trainers thought he may have had a sprained MCL, but a trip to the doctor revealed much worse.
"They did the x-rays," Lock said. "There was a dark spot on the bone."
"And you could tell by the look on his face something wasn't right," said Ian's mother Kay of the doctor's diagnosis.
The dark spot was a tumor on Ian's right tibia. Lock was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer in September of 2010.
"I think there was no reaction," Lock said of hearing the news. "I was 16 years old and I didn't really know what that meant, or what it could mean.
It meant 16 rounds of chemotherapy starting almost immediately.
"Its bags of liquid that they pump through him and you don't want them to do it," said Kay Lock. "Many, many times you just want to scream 'stop' and 'this can't be happening.' It's hard, but Ian was so strong. He was our strength. He's the one that got us through it."
According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for Osteosarcamo ranges from 60-to-80%. If the cancer has metastasized, or spread at the time it's found, that percentage drops to anywhere between 15-40% depending on where it spread to.
"At first they thought it metastasized to my lungs," Ian said. "Then when they went in they deflated it and cut out all the portions that they thought could have been cancerous. But they weren't, they ended up not being (cancerous)."
Outside of the chemo treatments, Ian underwent seven operations including a limb salvage surgery to repair his leg. 19 screws, two plates, and one cadaver bone later, and Ian's battle to get back on his feet began.
"I didn't walk on my own without crutches where I actually felt stable for a really long time," Ian said.
Fond du Lac Head Baseball Coach Marty Paulsen has been leading the Cardinals for 45 years, and in that time he said he's never seen a story like Ian's.
"He missed his whole freshman year (with a broken wrist suffered in his fist baseball game) and then of course he came down with a problem his sophomore year," Paulsen said. "But the will and desire that he had to battle, last year he pinch hit pretty much, but he still couldn't run very well. He worked and worked in the offseason, it's just an amazing story."
The senior cleanup hitter wasn't satisfied with just hitting; he also worked hard to return part-time to his old position behind the plate.
"I mean he blocks balls, he gets down like our supposed to," Paulsen said. "He does everything you are supposed to do as a catcher."
Each time Ian crouches down it's a reminder how far he's come.
"It was just one way of thinking I can do what I want, and I'm not going to let it stop me," Lock said.
"Sometimes you drift into 'what might have been, or what could be,'" Ian's father Curt Lock said. "Seeing him as active and positive as he always is, that very rarely comes into my thinking anymore."
That positive thinking goes all the way back to when Ian was injured, which led to an early diagnosis.
"I'm not sure if it was God putting those two people right there to hit him in the same spot," Kay Lock said. "Because that's exactly where the tumor was. "He wouldn't have gone to the doctor as soon as he did. It was a very good thing he got hit that day."
Lock's last chemotherapy treatment came in May of 2011.
Besides returning to the diamond, he rejoined his school's swim team, was voted Prom King, and currently holds a 3.93 grade point average.
Not only that, but Ian's testified before the Joint Finance Committee to advocate for cancer research, and next month he will speak to members of Congress on Capitol Hill to highlight progress made from federal funding of cancer research.
As far as college goes, Lock plans to get his public health degree so he can continue to battle this disease.
"I want to do research too because my form of cancer they don't know exactly what causes it right now," Ian said. "If I can do research through funding like NIH and everything I can do whatever I can to help so that nobody else has to feel the way I did."
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