Tell Us Your Story
Jonah White - Tulsa, Oklahoma
In the summer of 2006, Jonah White started complaining that his ankle was hurting.
“We didn’t think much of it at first but noticed that it was always his right ankle. We noticed that it looked swollen so we took him to the doctor,” said Amy White, Jonah’s mother.
Jonah's primary doctor performed an x-ray and wasn't sure exactly what was wrong, so the Whites were referred to The Orthopedic Center of Tulsa. The family was informed that Jonah had a cyst in his bone, and that it would eventually reabsorb back into the body.
Jonah was casted for a hairline fracture under the cyst and told to come back in four weeks. After Jonah got the cast off, he was still in a lot of pain and his walking was worse, so a second opinion was needed. An orthopedic surgeon with the facility ordered a MRI and agreed that it was just a cyst but "never cancerous."
“However, he did refer us to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Oklahoma City to look at his ankle and possibly remove the cyst so that it wouldn't hurt his growth,” Amy said.
November 13, 2006, is a day the White family will never forget. Jonah had his surgery scheduled to remove the cyst that four different doctors believed to be benign.
“You can imagine our shock and horror when the surgeon came in saying words like malignant, aggressive chemotherapy, and amputation. It was soon confirmed that Jonah had Osteosarcoma, a bone tumor in his right fibula near his ankle. Soon after, we were thrown into the world of hospitals, medicines and a life that revolved around helping our little boy fight for his leg but more importantly for his life,” Amy said.
Jonah started chemotherapy rounds in December 2006 at St. Francis under the care of a pediatric oncologist.
After the third round, it was evident that Jonah’s foot was going to have to be removed. If his foot was not removed, he would have a life full of surgeries, a fused ankle, limited mobility, and a 60 percent risk of the cancer coming back. The doctors were convinced he would be more functional with a prosthetic.
Jonah had his amputation surgery on April 6, 2007. Jonah was fitted for his first "new leg" on June 20, 2007. Jonah is now on his fifth and current leg, which is decked out in hunting camo. Amy said each leg has been unique and fun showing off a little of Jonah’s vibrant personality.
“Now when he has pants on, you can't even tell he has a prosthetic, however he loves wearing shorts and showing it off,” Amy said.
Jonah has been cancer free since treatment ended September 15, 2007.
He has continued to grow and thrive since his cancer treatment. However, cancer has definitely left its mark. More than just his leg, Jonah has lost his high frequency hearing and wears hearing aids. He continues speech and physical therapy on a regular basis.
When Jonah was first diagnosed, he was SoonerCare and continues to receive SoonerCare services through the TEFRA program.
“My first thoughts were will Jonah survive this; will my family survive this; will we lose our home because surely SoonerCare won’t cover this kind of medical treatment,” said Amy. “We were a young family, and it was a very scary thing to deal with the emotional, physical and financial struggles of all of this but when I found out that SoonerCare was going to help us and that Jonah was going to be able to get the quality treatment he needed and the therapies he needed to survive- I felt so blessed. We are so thankful for SoonerCare!”
Jonah plans to continue to help other children who have cancer through sharing his own story and raising money for more cancer research.
Remember, if you have a story to share about how SoonerCare has helped you or your family, visit our website at www.okhca.org/tellus. Whether it’s a quote of how SoonerCare helped you take your child to get a check-up to a full story on how SoonerCare helped save a life, we want to hear it!
Learn more about SoonerCare
OHCA’s “Tell Us Your Story” campaign was inspired by one mother’s thankful call to a SoonerCare outreach employee. The agency is asking other SoonerCare members to tell the agency how SoonerCare changed their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Oklahomans can apply for SoonerCare online at www.mysoonercare.org. Learn more about SoonerCare and other health care programs on the website or call the SoonerCare Helpline at 800-987-7767.