Sam Day and his mom Lorna walk a long hallway they thought they'd left behind forever at the cancer unit of Doernbecher Children's Hospital's.
“He's been out of treatment for a year, cancer-free," said Lorna.
The cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma, is rare, affecting only 1.7 out of every million children.
Sam wonders: Why him? “All the time. I hate it, so much,” he said.
Two years ago Sam and his doctors fought the cancer and thought they'd won, although he'd lost his left leg to amputation, a lifesaving move to stop the spread. He came back strong, determined to learn how to walk, then run on his prosthetic leg. He even ran the mile in a Beaverton track meet. Sam finished last in the race but first in the hearts of fans who cheered loudly.
Sam’s track coach works at Nike, which led to a meeting with South African Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics.
“That was great," Sam said. "He’s a great guy!”
He's a guy not far removed from a childhood with prosthetics.
Sam’s mom said couldn’t believe it.
“Oscar sat down with Sam. They both took off their legs. Oscar said, 'Show me what kind of foot you have there. You know what kind of foot you have there?' He said, 'I know that foot.'"
"You know nobody does that. Nobody can talk legs with Sam like that," Lorna said. “It was a huge boost for Sam.”
A bright spot in the darkness of cancer. “We're pretty big Oscar fans at this point," she said.
There were other moments, including an invitation to a closed University of Oregon football team practice, surfing with his family in Hawaii, and riding the waves with his dad behind a boat.
Then in July they discovered a lump on Sam’s right foot. “Really awful,” said Lorna. "Crushing.”
The cancer had returned.
“It’s been pretty tough you know?” said Sam. “I just kind of go with it."
The family was preparing to help with a fund raiser for the NW Sarcoma Foundation, which would include Sam’s story of triumph.
Now they're back at Doernbecher for another nine months of chemotherapy. “As a mom--well emotionally of course--it’s my biggest burden in my life,” Lorna Day said. “So to carry the weight, I can’t even go there."
But in the midst of it all, Sam’s mom focuses on the positive. “Tremendous blessings,” she said. “Just in seeing the people who support us, they make me want to be more like them."
Before Sam’s amputation, kids and teachers at Terra Linda Elementary School rallied to raise money and support for him. They have not gone away.
“I have dear friends who show up on my door step on my bad days, and we have people we hardly know literally around the world praying for Sam,” she said.
The Day family believes they will get through this, again.
“So now we feel like we're gonna go, we're gonna get rid of this and we'll be done. We'll be done with this!" she said.
To learn about the NW Sarcoma Foundation's fund raiser click here.