SARANAC — In December, Nate Wood was at the peak of his junior year, with big dreams for another season of varsity wrestling.
When not in class, the Section VII wrestling champ spent most of his time on the mat, practicing moves he hoped would help return him to the state championships.
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“And then he started having some issues,” his mom, Tammy, said.
As the wrestling season kicked off, Nate, 17, started having pains in his pelvic area.
Thinking he had pulled a muscle, he visited area doctors for what became a marathon of appointments, tests and misdiagnoses.
Through it all, Tammy said, Nate “continued to wrestle 22 matches, and he won 19 of the 22.
“He really pushed himself through it.”
But as the pain continued and the teen’s weight and health declined, the Woods pushed for further testing, which ultimately revealed Nate had Ewing’s sarcoma.
The rare cancer had engulfed the teen’s pelvis and spread to his lungs and spine.
News of the disease left the Woods in disbelief, since earlier testing initially ruled out cancer possibilities.
“It was just misdiagnosed,” Tammy said. “We were so happy and relieved at first — and then this.”
Since the holidays, Nate has lost 45 pounds and now spends much of his time at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington for chemotherapy and frequent checkups.
He will begin his third round of chemotherapy next week.
“He’s definitely a strong one, and he has his days ... but he tries to stay busy when he’s home,” Tammy said.
With each day now focused on Nate’s health, he and his family have found strength in the overwhelming support of his classmates and the surrounding community.
As word spread about his diagnosis, students and faculty at Saranac Central High School banded together with his family, friends and neighbors to help with the rising costs of his travel and treatment expenses.