Flash back to when you were a young kid—you’re actively and innocently pursuing your dreams of becoming an athlete. Nothing matters besides becoming the best that you can be at your respective sport and you’re working hard every single day…

Then, out of nowhere, tragedy strikes and the dreams that you’ve been working for are on the verge of being taken away.

Waking up is tough at times. Walking becomes an every day challenge. Attempting to participate in and advance yourself in the sports arena is a bleak proposition at this point…unless you never give up on your dream.

It takes a distinct type of person with strong character to get through anything resembling this situation, but that is exactly what the author of this passage did—does—day after day.

As Scott Odom writes below, “Never give up on your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you from reaching them. Our motto is ‘Stand up.’ Yes we play stand up to basketball… but we are standing up for what we believe in, what we know we can do, and standing up for ourselves.”

Everyone has something to learn and gain from Odom’s insight below. His remarkable journey is on the way up—and there is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.—Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13

by Scott Odom

Growing up I dreamed about becoming a professional athlete. I played sports constantly as a kid, whether it be pee wee sports or just pick up games in the neighborhood.

At the age of 10, I began to experience knee pain in my right knee.

My mom took me to the family doctor and I was told that I was too active for a kid my age. Months go by, and my knee pain is still there. For years to follow I visited numerous doctors who all told me I was too active for a young kid; I pulled ligaments, growing pains, or just basically needed to take a break from being active.

At the age of 14, I saw the family doctor again, a month before high school was starting, due to my knee pain being at its absolute worst. This time I had bad swelling in around my kneecap. I was in the room no more than a couple of minutes and the doctor pressed on my knee and moved it around then stated I would be fine. He gave me some pain medication and told me to take it easy for the next month and I should be good to go to start freshman football. A month later my pain was still getting worse, and I went to go see the team doctor.

This was the first time anyone had taken an X-Ray of my knee. An MRI then followed. On the first day of high school, I was taken out of school by my mom who took me to see the knee specialist due to the fact my results came back quicker than expected.

On this day, the first day of high school, the doctor told me that I had Osteosarcoma—bone cancer. She said by looking at the MRI I have probably had the cancer in my knee for at least two years. I was devastated and felt like I was lied to. I immediately had to undergo chemotherapy. I had to have a double port put into my chest to receive the chemo. I was now living at the hospital. Some chemos would last a week while others lasted three or four days, all requiring me to stay at the hospital. I was throwing up at least three times a day.

Two months into my chemo, my doctor left me with the difficult decision that would change my life forever. I had to have surgery to remove the tumor: I could have a reconstruction surgery, where they would basically take out all the bones in my leg along with the tumor and replace them with metal rods which would then limit me on how active I could be for the rest of my life. The second option was that I could have an amputation, which would be losing my leg below the knee. The upside to this side of things is it would be up to me on how active I wanted to be.

At the age of 14, I chose to have my leg amputated. Before my surgery, I was given the news that there were two more spots of cancer up high on my hip. This was devastating because there now was no choice of surgery; the only choice of survival was taking my whole leg at the hip. Right before the major surgery, they wanted to do a biopsy to make sure it was cancer.

When I woke up from the biopsy, my mom was over me crying. I was told that the doctors had the MRI results upside down…they were looking at the same two spots that were already on my knee—and there was nothing on my hip. I came very close to losing my whole leg when I didn’t have to. I was just blessed they caught their mistake.