Kindergartner's Broken Arm Leads to Cancer Diagnosis After Fall at School: It's 'Tears and Sorrow'
"This kid is 5 and he is so strong," Sandra Tillett tells PEOPLE of her nephew DJ Schott
Sandra and Charles Tillett rushed their 5-year-old nephew DJ Schott to a Kentucky hospital when he broke his arm while playing at school in December — but the Shepherdsville, Kentucky, couple didn’t expect the fracture to change their lives forever.
“He was in school and … he fell and he broke the upper part of his arm. He was holding his arm, crying and saying that it hurt. We just knew it was broke,” Sandra, 50, tells PEOPLE, noting they went to an urgent care center. “[Doctors] did x-rays and found that he had a mass.”
Schott was transferred to Norton’s Children’s Hospital in Louisville, where he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Sandra, who is Schott’s legal guardian, says the news was heartbreaking.
“There were so many things going through our heads. But our No. 1 reaction was tears because you feel sorry for him,” Sandra says. “Our first reaction was tears. What do we do from here? What’s he gonna go through? Is he gonna be able to keep his arm? It was tears and sorrow.”
The kindergartner started chemotherapy just days after doctors removed the mass. While undergoing several treatments and going in and out of the hospital over the last few months, he has not been able to return to school.
“He is doing home school. But he misses his classmates terribly,” she tells PEOPLE. “This kid is 5 and he is so strong. He has not cried through any of the scans or the tests or anything. He is taking it so, so well — better than I know I would.”
The family has set up a Facebook page for Schott called Team D.J. “Go for the Gold.” Members of the community recently got together to raise money for the family in a fundraiser event packed with music, food and raffles.
Now, Sandra says Schott has nearly a dozen chemotherapy treatments left, but the family is hopeful that he will soon be in remission.
“He’s getting tired of the hospital, but he’s just a normal kid. After his surgery, they thought he’d be in a wheelchair for three months, but once we got home he was up and running after five days!” Sandra tells PEOPLE.
“The hardest part of this is seeing him go through everything,” she continues. “It’s hard for anyone to have to stay in the hospital, but the hardest is seeing him have to do these treatments. He’s the one that’s having to do it and we’re just along for the ride.”