Boy, 7, whose ‘growing pains’ were revealed to be cancerous leg tumors that gave him 30% chance of survival dies a year after being diagnosed

A seven-year-old whose ‘growing pains’ were revealed to be cancerous leg tumors has died.

Nixon Whatcott, from Bluffdale, Utah, began experiencing soreness in his left leg in January 2018, but his parents assumed it would subside.

But the pain didn’t go away and, after three weeks of grievances, Nick and Janessa decided to take their son to the local hospital.

In fact, Nixon was not having growing pains. He had cancerous tumors on his femur and they were spreading, leaving him with just a 30 percent chance of survival.

He underwent chemotherapy and radiation, but his condition took a turn for the worse two weeks ago when more tumors were found in his abdomen.

Last Friday, Nixon’s parents told their thousands of well-wishers that their son passed away on June 25.

Nixon Whatcott, seven (left and right), of Bluffdale, Utah, has died a year after being diagnosed with bone cancer. He began complaining of pains in his leg in January 2018

His parents, Nick and Janessa, assumed they were growing pains but they continued for weeks. Pictured: Nixon in the hospital

His parents, Nick and Janessa, assumed they were growing pains but they continued for weeks. Pictured: Nixon in the hospital

‘Nixon was given his biggest challenge when he was diagnosed with cancer,’ a statement on his family’s Facebook page read in part.

‘His fight, his battle was something to behold and taught us lessons that we will never forget about perseverance, strength, courage and finding joy even when life is tough.’

In an interview last year, Janessa said that whenever Nixon would complain of the pain in his leg, ‘he’d be off running’ the next day.

‘He’s really active, so my husband and I thought maybe he’d sprained his ankle or had a hairline fracture,’ she told PEOPLE.

When the family finally went to hospital for X-rays, Janessa assumed that doctors might be able to provide suggestions for how to remedy the pain.

Instead, the doctor asked the couple to speak with him privately. He showed them a tumor the size of an egg on Nixon’s femur.

Within a few hours, the family was at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where, after taking a sample of the tumor, doctors determined it was cancerous.

Several smaller tumors were also discovered on Nixon’s left femur. The diagnosis was osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. It occurs when the cells that grow new bone form a cancerous tumor.

Most tumors usually develop around the knee – where Nixon’s began – either in the lower part of the thighbone or the upper part of the shinbone.

If the cancer has not spread, the long-term survival rate is between 70 and 75 percent.

If osteosarcoma has already spread, such as to the lungs or other bones at diagnosis, the long-term survival rate is about 30 percent.

After visiting a local hospital, Nixon’s parents were told he had cancerous tumors in his leg. Nixon was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which occurs when the cells that grow new bone form a cancerous tumor. Pictured, left and right: Nixon in the hospital with his mother

Doctors discovered that the tumors had spread to Nixon’s lung and arm, and he was given a survival chance of 30 percent. Pictured: Nixon with his father and his brothers

Doctors discovered that the tumors had spread to Nixon’s lung and arm, and he was given a survival chance of 30 percent. Pictured: Nixon with his father and his brothers

‘My husband and I lost it. We felt that loss that he’d been given this thing and we couldn’t take it away from him,’ Janessa told PEOPLE.

‘There was nothing we could do for him. We were concerned what the cancer treatments would be. How were we gonna tell him?’

The family learned in the next week that the cancer had spread to his arm and his lungs, where there are several small tumors.

A port was put in Nixon’s chest. He underwent rounds of chemotherapy, but eventually stopped responding, so he was switched to radiation.

Janessa and Nick started a Facebook page called NixonStrong where they provided updates on their son’s condition.

In May 2018, Nixon (pictured) underwent a rotationplasty, a surgical procedure where the bottom of the femur, the knee, and the upper tibia are surgically removed. The lower leg is then rotated 180 degrees and attached to the femur

In May 2018, Nixon (pictured) underwent a rotationplasty, a surgical procedure where the bottom of the femur, the knee, and the upper tibia are surgically removed. The lower leg is then rotated 180 degrees and attached to the femur

Last month, Nixon’s parents updated that their son had been complaining of stomach pain. Doctors found a tumor below his diaphragm and another one in his pelvis. Pictured, left and right: Nixon in the hospital

In May 2018, Nixon underwent a rotationplasty, a surgical procedure where the bottom of the femur, the knee, and the upper tibia are surgically removed. The lower leg is then rotated 180 degrees and attached to the femur. A prosthetic replaced Nixon’s knee.

‘Nixon’s been frustrated having to come to the hospital a lot. It was hard for him because he wants to have a real leg, he doesn’t want to have a fake leg,’ Janessa told PEOPLE.

‘This has turned our lives upside down, but [Nick and I] just keep in mind that we only have to do this for a short time and he’ll be healthy.’

Last month, Nixon’s parents updated that their son had been complaining of stomach pain.

Doctors initially believed it was constipation from his pain medication, but a CT scan later determined he had a tumor below his diaphragm and another one in his pelvis.

‘To stay we were devastated doesn’t even touch on our emotions,’ his parents wrote. ‘Having osteosarcoma spread to soft tissue is endgame. Here [it] grows like wildfire.’

Just five days after this post, Nixon passed away.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the NixonStrong Foundation, which raises money to help children with cancer and their families.

Donations can be made online or sent via check to P.O. Box 95455 South Jordan, UT 84095.

A family friend had started a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of medical bills. As of Tuesday, more than $41,800 has been raised of $45,000 goal

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