A soccer ball to the stomach may have saved a South Carolina teen’s life, as doctors diagnosed him with a rare cancer while treating him for the sports injury.
Westley Peterson, 17, of Fort Mill, S.C., was at soccer practice in March when he was hit in the abdomen. After the incident, he noticed blood in his urine, and a CT scan revealed a mass in his kidney that turned out to be a Wilms tumor, the most common type of kidney cancer in children. Most Wilms tumors only affect one kidney and often grow before they are noticed, according to the American Cancer Society.
“I went in because they thought it was kidney stones and came out knowing it was cancer, so that was definitely a very shocking moment,” Peterson told Fox46 Charlotte.
Four days after Peterson’s diagnosis, surgeons removed the teenager’s right kidney and the tumor. Within two weeks, he began radiation and chemotherapy, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help the family with finances. Peterson will undergo 21 weeks of chemotherapy and had his final radiation treatment on Monday.
"At that point, it went so fast that we really didn't have a whole lot of time to think about it or process it, which was probably good," his mother, Janet Peterson, told Fox46. "I think everything happens for a reason, and I think getting hit with the soccer ball led us down the path to find the tumor before it spread.”
Because this type of cancer typically develops in children younger than Westley, his tumor has been submitted for study by the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest organization devoted to childhood cancer research.
Westley told the news channel he plans to continue to play the sport that may have saved his life.