This blog post was written by Brian Billeck, Damon's father
Damon was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in January 2014, at the age of 9, after his mother Lisa hugged him and felt an unusual lump on his left arm. Osteosarcoma is rare, but is the most common form of bone cancer in children and teens. While it can develop on any bone, it is usually found at the quickly growing ends of the “long bones” such as those in the arms and legs. In Damon’s case, the enormous tumor had destroyed most of his left humerus (the upper arm bone between the elbow and the shoulder).
Osteosarcoma grows quietly. Usually, by the time you find it, it may be too late. Despite the damage from the tumor, Damon underwent limb-salvage surgery in April 2015 (a complex operation which removes as much cancerous tissue as possible without amputating the entire limb), followed by ten months of highly intensive chemotherapy. After treatment Damon was N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease). However, just a few months later, scans showed the cancer returned to his arm. This time the only option was amputation.
When Jumo Health reached out to Damon and asked if he would like to be featured in a comic about Osteosarcoma he jumped at the chance. When the first draft arrived, Damon was so nervous. When he saw the cover art depicting him as a One-Armed Superhero “American Boy” he started crying! He was so happy they kept him who he was. It was important to him that other kids see that even if cancer took your arm, or leg or whatever…it could never take your spirit, your strength, or your family.
Understanding Osteosarcoma is a journey that takes Dara & Damon through the body and educates them in a manner easy to understand. It’s a phenomenal way to teach children. The journey ends with a family hug as they fight together!
Damon passed away from Osteosarcoma April 3, 2018, at the age of 13. He was surrounded by his family and holding the hand of his twin sister. Damon had a saying:
“Strength isn’t’ about how much one can lift.
Strength is about how much one can lift others.”
Damon’s parents and family continue to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer and spread Damon’s positive message.