Local teen faces tough choices in battle with rare cancer
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Battling cancer is hard and doing it young is even more challenging – just ask a local teen who made a tough but life-saving decision.
For 16-year-old Olavio Hernandez, of Estancia, it all started in 2021 with pain in his right knee.
‘I thought it was, like, my meniscus or something like that,” Hernandez recalled.
Hernandez is an athlete and is active each day. The occasional bruise or ache isn’t uncommon, so he brushed it off. That is until he couldn’t anymore.
“It was just hurting and hurting until, finally, we went to the doctor because it was hurting too much to the point that I couldn’t hold it anymore,” Hernandez remembered.
An MRI revealed a tumor around 5 cm wide. After a biopsy, doctors confirmed the tumor was cancerous.
Doctors diagnosed Hernandez with monophasic synovial sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that comes from soft tissues near the joints. From there, Hernandez began treatments.
“His doctors told him that they were going to try radiation and they did that for about a year. Then, come to find out, it was not treating the actual cancer,” Liliian Hernandez, his grandma, said.
There was another option to stop the cancer from spreading – amputation. However, this procedure is unique.
Now, Olivio Hernandez’s foot is backward and attached where his knee would be, acting as a new knee joint. It’s called a rotation plasty surgery.
“That way, a prosthetic can fit better and he can have more mobility, right?” his grandma said.
A young active teen losing his leg may sound devastating to some but Hernandez says it’s all about looking at the bigger picture.
“I want to stay here as long as I can, so I was just looking at the long run, like, it’s the best choice,” Hernandez said.
While the journey is still long, his faith, resilience and the support around him are stronger than ever.
Hernandez is considered to be in remission now. He and his family say they appreciate the great support the Estancia community is showing them.
The family encourages parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and to take any aches and pains seriously.
If you’d like to help, click here to find their GoFundMe page.