Area Student Overcomes Frightening Diagnosis

Sam Smith has learned the value of living life one day at a time despite the fact that he is just a junior at Lee’s Summit West High School.

It all started in the fall of his eighth grade year during a football game for Summit Lakes Middle School. The running back suffered an injury that didn’t appear to be serious at the time.

“I broke my leg during a game,” he says. “I had it casted and when the cast came off there was extra growth.”

The growth was biopsied.

“The doctor determined it was osteosarcoma,” he says. That was in the spring of 2012. And after the determination of what was causing the growth, there was the treatment for the cancer.

“I had four rounds of chemotherapy, then surgery to replace my tibia with a medal rod,” says Smith. But that wasn’t the end of the treatment.

“After all that, I had eight rounds of chemo and all looked good,” he says. “I was told there was no evidence of the disease.”

In spite of the great news, this took the talented running back out of football and all contact sports for his freshman year at Lee’s Summit West. This is not easy for a freshman in high school to deal with, but several months later, things got worse for the Titan freshman. Doctors found out that his cancer had spread to another part of the body.

“Nine months later, doctors discovered that the cancer had returned in my lungs,” he says. “I went through 12 more rounds of chemo and a wedge resection surgery on my right lung.”

In November of 2014 he and his parents got the news they’d been hoping would come at the end of the journey.

“I was told I had a clean bill of health,” he says. He still has to see the doctors every three months just to be sure. And, the Titan junior has been able to return to the world of sports. He can’t be involved in contact sports because of his leg surgery, but he can participate in non-contact sports. So, Smith took up swimming with the Titans swimming team. He is a sprint freestyler; his main events are the 50-and 100-yard freestyles. His best times are 25.3 in the 50 free and 58.4 in the 100 free. He has not qualified for the state meet, but that could be coming in his senior year in the fall of 2015.

Not bad for someone just taking up the sport.

All of his medical problems have impacted this young man's outlook on life.

“It has definitely changed my life,” he says. “I take my life one day at a time and try to enjoy it all.”

Smith has impressed many people at the school.

“Sam is young man with so much love for life that no matter what comes his way he is ready to tackle it,” says Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Debbie Katzfey. “He has that never-ever-give-up attitude. He is an inspiration to all of us to live life each day and never take one day for granted.”