In 2018, 13-year-old Natalie underwent an MRI to find the cause of her knee pain. It seemed likely to be an injury from cheerleading, but after her stepsister, Olivia, was diagnosed with bone cancer that summer, no one wanted to take any chances.
Natalie’s MRI did show something unusual – possibly a bone infection. But the biopsy proved Natalie had osteosarcoma – same as Olivia – in her right tibia.
In a matter of days, Natalie joined her stepsister at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
When Natalie arrived in October 2018, Olivia was a month into the osteosarcoma treatment that Natalie would also complete.
They received chemotherapy and limb-saving surgery, in which the affected area of bone was removed and replaced with a rod, as well as physical therapy.
They became “battle buddies,” keeping each other upbeat and passing the time with normal teen stuff, like makeup and their favorite shows.
I had someone really close to me that knew almost exactly how I felt and what I was going through.
St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Both girls have now finished treatment and gone home cancer-free and are back at school. They return to St. Jude for checkups. Their families hope their surprising story will help spread awareness.
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