Former Badgers Player Walt McGrory Discusses Osteosarcoma Journey

Walt McGrory always knew that he wanted to play basketball. So when he became a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), he joined the Badgers as a walk-on. In 2021, he decided to transfer programs to the University of South Dakota. But shortly after he transferred, his left leg began to ache. It became more difficult to walk, to run, to play the sport that he wanted. After doctors ran a multitude of tests, McGrory was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. 

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, McGrory underwent limb salvage surgery with a goal of preserving his limb, followed by 4 months of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the treatment was unsuccessful. McGrory entered into remission for a short period, but the tumor recurred behind his knee. The tumor grew significantly in size this year. McGrory struggled to walk without crutches or even sleep without pain. 

More recently, testing showed that McGrory would require partial amputation of his left leg to remove the osteosarcoma. Unfortunately, the tests also showed that the cancer has metastasized (spread) to McGrory’s lungs. In an Instagram post, McGrory notes that he is remaining upbeat, writing: 

“A broken spirit doesn’t stand a chance.” 

He hopes that sharing his story will help others on their own treatment journeys and will remind people that they are not alone.

Osteosarcoma: The Basics

Also known as osteogenic sarcoma, osteosarcoma is a rare bone cancer that typically manifests in areas of fast bone growth, such as the upper arm bone or femur near the knee. In many cases, osteosarcoma occurs during growth spurts in teenagers, although it can occur in older individuals as well. This cancer is also more common in boys than girls. Symptoms vary based on where the tumor is located. Potential symptoms may include:

  • Redness and swelling around the affected area
  • Limited mobility or range of motion
  • Bone pain
  • A mass or lump that can be felt through the skin
  • Bone fracturing with no known cause

In many cases, chemotherapy and surgery are effective treatment options. However, in rarer cases like McGrory, amputation may be required.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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