WHEN Ben Durrant started training for a fundraising marathon last year, he assumed the pain in his knee was down to a pulled muscle.
The 29-year-old, from Bicester, was trying to raise money for a cancer charity in honour of his father Alan, who battled the disease.
What he did not realise is that he had a cancerous tumour the size of a small orange on his left knee.
He said: “As soon as I had the x-ray I saw what it was.
“A biopsy confirmed it was osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and a few days later I was in the Churchill Hospital receiving chemotherapy.”
Abi Goodwin, 27, put the searing pains in her left knee down to twisting it after falling down some stairs.
But after extensive tests Ms Goodwin, who lives near Wallingford, discovered she was also suffering with the aggressive form of cancer common in children and young adults.
The pair, who were both treated at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, have come together to tell their stories to support Bone Cancer Awareness Week.
From Monday, the Bone Cancer Research Trust will be holding a host of events around the country to raise awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma and osteosarcoma, the two main types of bone cancer.
Macmillan cancer specialist nurse Helen Stradling, based at the NOC, said about 60 Oxfordshire people are diagnosed with bone cancer each year – most of them aged between 10 and 20.
She added: “The cancer survival rates for osteosarcoma is around 55 per cent at five years and for Ewing’s sarcoma it is around 60 per cent.
“But a lot of young people don’t realise they have the disease until it is too late, and many GPs misdiagnose it as ‘growing pains’.
“That is why awareness-raising events like this are so important.”
Fifteen-year-old Jake Spicer, from Blackbird Leys, lost a six-year battle with bone cancer last July.
Mother Lesley Spicer said parents should never feel bad for demanding a second opinion from GPs.
She said: “With Jake we were told repeatedly it was just growing pains. Please don’t be scared to get a second diagnosis for your child.
“I spent my time convinced they’d find a cure for Jake. Anything that raises awareness will get my backing.”
Ms Goodwin said although many young people can be daunted by the prospect of cancer, a diagnosis does not have to be the end.
She said: “I would say to people who are going through what I went through, that as scary as it may be, you can come out the other side.
“It’ll take time, but you can get there.”
Mr Durrant added: “Two months ago I discovered I had three growths on my lungs.
“I’ve had the operation and they’ve been removed now and it all went really well.
“I’ve got a scar on my knee from the first operation and a scar on my back from the second.
“I joke about it. I call the one on my knee ‘the skiing accident’ and the one on my back ‘the shark bite’.
“But if it wasn’t for me doing that marathon for my dad, I wouldn’t have ever known until it was too late.
“That’s why it’s so important for people to be aware of bone cancer and know the signs.”
According to experts, bone pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer.
It often begins with a tenderness in the affected bone, and then progresses to a persistent ache that often feels worse during the night and when using the affected bone.
Bone pain caused by bone cancer is often wrongly mistaken for arthritis in adults and growing pains in children and teenagers.
Other symptoms include high temperature, or fever of 38C or above, unexplained weight loss, and sweating.