Never Alone: Tanner’s Story

Tanner and his family

Wearing a hospital gown, 9-year-old Tanner picked “the cherry smell” to go with the anesthesia for his port-removal surgery, a procedure his family hoped would be the last step in his osteosarcoma treatment.

After almost a year of enduring some of the nastiest chemotherapies and debilitating limb-salvage surgeries, Tanner has returned to the fourth grade and is now back to hunting and being silly.

As Super Bowl Sunday rolled around this February, his dad, Shane, remembered the day that changed their lives forever. “On this night last year, we found the lump on Tanner’s arm. We were all snuggled on the couch watching TV, nothing special, when God intervened. Holly noticed a small lump on Tan’s forearm. It didn’t hurt, but it bothered us. We decided that Tanner and I would skip the Super Bowl…and instead go…[to the] ER for an X-ray.”

In early spring 2016, Tanner had surgery to remove the mass. Then 10 days later, doctors told the family that he had osteosarcoma, a deadly bone cancer that affects hundreds of kids each year.

“As we drove home…we cried, thinking, ‘What’s next?’” Shane says.

Tanner after surgery

Doctors called to schedule a port-installation surgery, a mechanism that is implanted in a child’s chest to flow in chemotherapy, and his battle against osteosarcoma began.

After a few months of nauseating rounds of chemotherapy, the pathology department reviewed Tanner’s case at a tumor board and the news worsened: Doctors didn’t think they’d removed all the cancer—it was still in his body. Doctors decided the next course of action was to perform an innovative limb-salvage surgery to get rid of the cancer completely. This 12-hour surgery replaced the diseased arm bone with a reconstructed, fully functional limb using Tanner’s own leg bone.

Tanner finished five more cycles of chemotherapy and kept up with schoolwork while he healed from the highly invasive limb surgery.

CTanner today

Today, he is back at school and going through physical therapy to regain his strength. Every three months, he’ll return to the hospital for bone scans to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned.

“The fight is not over. We feel good about where we are, but the war is not over,” says Shane. “We will continue to fight until no child loses his or her battle with cancer. We will continue to battle for more funding and better research, raise awareness and spread love so that no family fights alone and cancer is gone forever.”

A lover of hunting and fishing, Tanner was recently back at one of his favorite hobbies, bow-hunting.

Throughout Tanner’s journey, his family’s motto has been “Never Alone,” and we’re grateful to supporters like you who help make that motto a reality for kids like him. Already, Children’s Cancer Research Fund donors from around the world have joined together to make incredible strides in osteosarcoma research.

See How You Can Make an Impact

Help families like Tanner’s remember that they are never alone in their fight against childhood cancer. To learn more, contact Amy Polski Larson at 952-224-8486 or