“Prodigy” isn’t a word to be thrown around lightly, but for Hudson High School student James, the moniker fits. He started playing piano when he was three years old, and before long he was winning local, national, and international piano competitions. James has played piano in venues all around the world, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in New York City. The vision he had for his life included upward trajectories in his music and academic careers, but it didn’t include cancer. Of course, illnesses rarely take our wishes into account.
When he was 13 years old, James began experiencing extreme abdominal pain. His doctors identified a tumor outside his bladder, and biopsies were taken. Members of the lab team as well as pathologists across the United States collaborated on a final diagnosis: a rare form of aggressive bone and tissue cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. James struggled with several side effects of chemotherapy such as hair loss, pain, and muscle weakness. Before his diagnosis, he played baseball and basketball; during his treatment, he had to give them up. Perhaps worst of all, James lost the feeling in his fingers, and with it, his ability to play piano. After nearly three months of chemotherapy, he was declared cancer-free and the feeling in his fingers returned.
James and his family navigated their journey with faith and hope. They also learned the value of the laboratory team. In fact, James volunteers at pediatric cancer awareness events so he can promote the role laboratory professionals and pathologists play in cancer diagnosis and treatment. He also continues to study piano so he can positively impact others through his music.