Sarcoma Story: Brent Hendrickson

Type of Sarcoma: Osteosarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: 2001

Brent-HendricksonBrent passed away at the age of 20 on Feb. 3, 2003, after a three-year battle with Osteosarcoma, an aggressive children’s bone cancer. He was diagnosed in April 2000 with a primary tumor in his humerus and metastasis to both lungs. Prior to his illness Brent played high school football and basketball and had had many sports related injuries, so it did not seem unusual when for three months prior to the cancer diagnosis the doctor’s had misdiagnosed his pain as a torn rotator cuff problem from playing football.

At diagnosis Brent was six weeks from high school graduation. Although he would not return to school after the diagnosis due to the side effects from the chemotherapy, he had already earned all the credits he needed to graduate and was able to participate in the graduation ceremony with his class. His attitude from the time he was first diagnosed was very positive, his mind was set on beating the disease, and continuing as much as possible with a normal life. Within a week of diagnosis he started on his first chemotherapy treatment. His tumors responded very well to treatment.

The primary tumor shrunk significantly and the lung metastasis totally disappeared. This response provided so much hope for us all that he would survive. He continued on chemotherapy and had surgery to remove the diseased humerus and replace it with a cadaver bone. The surgery went well and he had fairly good use of his arm. In June 2001 he finished what was to be his last chemotherapy treatment and was ready to start school at the University of Minnesota and move on with his life.Brent_Hendrickson_Graduation

He planned to major in biology and pursue a career in public health to help others. Unfortunately, only one week later, scans showed that the cancer had returned to Brent’s lungs. Despite this huge setback he was still determined to keep fighting. For the next two years he endured five lung surgeries and tried many other chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He continued with his education plans and started school at the University of Minnesota and working part-time in the Psychology Department. Despite being sick from the treatments and the cancer itself taking a toll on his body, he even made the dean’s list. Throughout Brent’s illness his one and only girlfriend of six years stuck by his side constantly. Brent and Beth were engaged to be married on March 15, 2003. When it became apparent that Brent was not going to survive, a marriage was arranged at the hospital 10 hours before he took his last breath.