Isaiah Lara: “I can get through anything now”

Updated: Jun. 1, 2019 at 1:56 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - 16-year-old Isaiah Lara began experiencing pain in his left leg in the fall of 2017.

“We went to the doctor, he didn’t know what it was,” Isaiah said. “He sent us to a physical therapy place, they didn’t know what it was.”

Isaiah is a basketball player, so it was assumed to be a sports-related injury. But, an x-ray revealed a suspicious mass on his thigh.

“That was the only thing I could think about, was cancer,” Isaiah said. “It’s all I could think about.”

That is when Isaiah was introduced to UMC Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the upper part of his leg.

On December 27, 2017, Isaiah went in for a biopsy and port placement. Days afterward, he was admitted to the hospital for his first round of chemotherapy.

“Never in a million years would I think one of my children had cancer,” Daphne Roybal, Isaiah’s mother, said.

Isaiah and his family worked with Dr. Kishor Bhende, a pediatric oncologist at UMC, to fight the cancer using chemotherapy.

“Dr. Bhende is an awesome doctor and very, very kind and knowledgeable,” Juanita Lara, Isaiah’s great-grandmother said, “and his whole staff is as well.”

The chemotherapy was an important first step, but the next part of the miracle came when Dr. George Brindley, a reconstruction and oncology surgeon, removed the tumor.

Dr. Brindley removed the middle part of Isaiah’s thigh bone and replaced it with a donor bone. Isaiah now has a custom prosthesis, a metal and plastic joint, much like what Dr. Brindley would have done for someone with a knee replacement. By doing this, he was able to preserve both Isaiah’s hip and knee joints.

“Save his life, that’s the first thing you’ve got to do,” Dr. Brindley said. “Save the life, and if it’s possible to save the limb while you’re doing it, that’s a bonus.”

On September 19, 2018 Isaiah rang the bell. He has now been cancer free for eight months.

“I really feel like a new person. I feel stronger. I know I can get through anything now,” Isaiah said.

It is a miracle the doctors were able to save Isaiah’s life, but perhaps the biggest miracle is that they were able to save his quality of life.

This devastating cancer diagnosis would normally call for amputation, but with UMC’s state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated chemotherapy, Isaiah is able to continue life as a normal teenager with both legs.

“Last time I saw him he came walking into the clinic without his crutches or anything,” Dr. Bindley said.

As for Isaiah’s desire to play ball again, the doctor says he may just do it.

“That’s what you do it for,” Dr. Bindley said. “That’s what you do it for.”

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