Teen with scary medical past shares Riley Health story for Giving Tuesday

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - What if you could help save a child's life?

Well, the doctors and nurses at Riley Children's Health work hard at it every day, and now they need your help.

Fourteen-year-old Connor Schuelke is a freshman at St. Joseph High School in South Bend. He enjoys being back in the classroom, surrounded by friends.

When Connor was 8 years old, he began noticing a pulling pain in his left leg.

"I was absolutely crying my eyes out because it hurt so bad," Connor said.

"He would get fevers and he didn't want to get off the couch. It was just not the same child I was used to having around the house," said Rachel Trinh, Connor's mother.

After multiple doctor visits and tests, the family finally had their answer after going to Riley Children's Health.

"It was February of 2014 and they wanted to run some more tests, and they noticed something and realized it was a tumor in my left femur," Connor said.

Connor was diagnosed with metastatic Ewing sarcoma, a rare cancer that develops in and around the bones. Later, he had hip replacement surgery.

"I don't really remember much about that time," he said. "It was a mix-match, bipolar kind of thing; I was happy one moment and felt awful the next."

But Connor does remember one thing.

"I had all A's," he recalled.

He didn't let chemotherapy derail his report card, which meant a lot more than just grades to his mother.

"I felt like a routine was very important," Rachel said. "I think the teachers felt guilty for giving me his homework, but you don't want him to sit in a hospital bed all day and be miserable. … You want him to get his mind off of it."

He also focused on what he wanted to do next, like learn piano.

"Music is a great therapy and it's therapeutic for him too," Rachel said.

He's also learning how to fly a plane.

"On an airliner, you usually don't notice the banks, but when you're on a small plane and you're right up against the window, you can definitely feel everything," Connor said.

He's mastered those as well as cancer.

This month will mark five years cancer-free for Connor, which he credits to the doctors and staff at Riley.

"It was really just phenomenal. They pampered me so much," he said. "… It was like a castle."

Kids just like Connor need your help. By giving right now on this Giving Tuesday, your donation will qualify for matching funds.

For more information, just click here or find the Riley banner on wndu.com.