MENTOR, Ohio - From creating puzzles, to Peanuts cartoons to his obsession with cars, Liam Waldron of Mentor, Ohio is a very intelligent 8-year old with a lot of spunk.
But just four years ago, his health took a turn for the worse.
"We went to go see family in New Jersey, came back and he had been complaining a little bit about his leg hurting," his mom, Wendy Waldron, told WJW.
"I felt like I had growing pains and for thousands of nights and one night I couldn't fall asleep,” said Liam.
Turns out, Liam was suffering from a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer in his left leg, called osteosarcoma.
"I saw my mom crying and I was like, 'well, well what is that?' And my mom told me that you're kinda very sick," said Liam
"Your world comes crashing down around you. You're trying to process it and just want to be sure that they're taken care of,” said Wendy.
After successfully undergoing ten weeks of chemotherapy, Cleveland Clinic surgeon Dr. Michael Joyce said traces of cancer remained. To give Liam the best chance at running and jumping again, doctors suggested a surgery that is extremely unusual, called rotationplasty.
Doctors amputated a portion of Liam’s thigh, took part of his lower leg, rotated it backward and reattached it to the thigh, with his ankle now becoming his new knee.
Rotationplasty is rarely performed in the United States. In fact, fewer than 10 procedures are done annually.
Dr. Joyce says, "We saved the artery... we saved the nerves, and then we bring up the tibia after the resection to the upper part of the femur, rotate things 180 degrees, and anchor it with a plate."
Liam’s surgery was followed by more chemo, and in January, a specially-designed prosthetic leg was made just for him that bears the weight of his rotated foot.
Physical therapy sessions allow Liam to continue to build strength.
"He's gone from using a walker and hopping in it, to being able to walk without the walker," his physical therapist Raquel Griffis said.
Liam continues to get stronger every day with his cancer now in remission.
"That's what I dreamed about. It feels like the bestest thing to be able to run around," Liam said. "It feels like destiny, what's another way to describe that. I don't know."