A Blessing In Disguise

“Probably all of you are aware by now that the news we received back from the biopsy was not what we hoped for.”

So reads the first line of the first blog entry Mary Tankersley’s mother wrote on November 18th, 2012. A few weeks before, 11-year-old Mary was having trouble with her knee; it was painful and swollen. Their orthopedist recommended them to the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta where she could be further examined but after an MRI and a biopsy, nobody wanted to believe the diagnosis—osteosarcoma, a potentially lethal bone cancer. A blog for Mary was started on CaringBridge.org as a means of keeping friends and family informed of new developments but soon attracted a wider audience.

In one of the many outpourings of support, Mary’s six-grade classmates organized a school dance fundraiser for her. Though unable to attend because of surgery and chemotherapy, Mary was touched by the gesture. As she had written on her blog, she was afraid not only of dying, but failing school, and of losing all her friends. News of the dance helped calm her fears. As event organizer Kari Pascoe happily notes, “I know that the sixth graders are powerful and they don’t need to be bystanders. They have the capability to do something to help as well.”

The surgery Mary was recovering from was rotationplatsy, a rare procedure that removed the section of Mary’s leg with cancer, which included her knee, and reattached her ankle backward so that it took the place of the knee joint. Later, a prosthetic was added, slipping over the ankle/knee joint to give Mary close to her full athletic abilities.

With her six-month scans clear, her loved ones are finally breathing easy again. Her mother explains, “Mary’s doing great, and due to the cancer, she’s having lots of opportunities she wouldn’t normally have.” As a childhood cancer survivor, Mary was able to take part in fundraiser for cancer research called Rally Idol where she along with four other survivors performed songs special to them for a panel of judges comprised of former-American idol contestants. So far, she’s made an appearance on the Bert Show (Q-100), became a certified scuba, and was an FBI agent for a day. She’s even been invited to speak at a TheTruth365 fundraiser in New York City.

With the worst hopefully behind them, the Tankersleys are ready to embrace the silver lining, “Even though cancer is “bad,” it is what the Lord had for her. He entrusted her with cancer, and now she is being given a platform.” As for Mary, she’s excited to have her new prosthetic leg, to be able to walk and run again. In her Christmas blog entry, she sounds like any other child, excited about the release of Hunger Games, trying out for All-State Chorus and celebrating the holidays with family.

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