Dalton Fox had a contagious smile and sense of humor, even through his toughest days. He is an inspiration to us and the reason for our mission to find targeted therapies and treatments for Ewing Sarcoma. This is Dalton’s story.
Rounding third base, a few weeks after hitting his first home run, 8-year-old Dalton slowed up before reaching home. When his coach asked him why he wasn’t running full speed, D told us that his left leg hurt when he ran. We had no idea why his leg hurt and it would take a mis-diagnosis and another nine months to learn that our son had cancer. Specifically, Ewing Sarcoma, a bone cancer, located in his upper left tibia.
In March of 2018, Dalton began a standard chemotherapy regimen designed to kill the rapidly dividing Ewing Sarcoma cells along with a limb salvage surgery in July of 2018. After almost a year of chemotherapy and an artificial knee and metal tibia, Dalton was declared cancer free in February of 2019. Unfortunately, on Memorial Day of that year, we noticed a bump on Dalton’s left leg. We soon found out the cancer had returned.
Five days later, Dalton crutched into his first day of school determined to man his safety patrol position. The amputation was followed by another six months of chemotherapy. While the initial chemotherapy for Ewing Sarcoma is well researched and accepted, there is no accepted protocol for recurrent Ewing Sarcoma. There isn’t enough research on Ewing Sarcoma that has returned (i.e., recurrent) to define a standard treatment plan leaving the doctors to guess and experiment on their own. However, once again, in February of 2020, Dalton was declared cancer free. With his new prosthetic leg, named Larry, Dalton enjoyed another spring out of the hospital.
The amputation and six more months of chemo hadn’t worked. We took Dalton to the hospital after he complained of trouble breathing during swim practice. A chest x-ray showed us a lung full of fluid and a return and metastasis of the Ewing Sarcoma. Over the next eleven months, Dalton continued to smile and make others laugh all while fighting for his own life. D endured multiple clinical trials, a move to Washington D.C. for treatment with an experimental drug (Dr. Toretsky’s TK216), radiation, and more chemotherapy. If pure grit, determination, and toughness would have been enough, Dalton would have easily beaten his cancer, but he needed help and better treatments. Surrounded by his loving mom, dad, and sister, Dalton died on May 25, 2021, a little more than three years after his initial diagnosis.
Dalton’s smile and sense of humor were infectious. Even while fighting cancer, Dalton brightened every room he walked into. When the nurses asked him if he needed anything else, D would quickly reply, “20 bucks?” When you asked him “what’s up?” D would reply “the sky.” Dalton loved animals, especially lemurs and even had a lemur picture on Larry, his prosthetic leg. When kids asked him what happened to his missing left leg, Dalton would smile and say “shark attack.” He even wanted to get a pedicure and see if he got half off. Baseball, fishing, swimming, watching Marvel movies, and sled hockey were some of our boy’s favorite activities. Dalton was only with us here on Earth for 12 years but he sure enjoyed his 12 years. His parents, sister, family, friends and community were lucky to have known him, miss him dearly, and will never forget him.