15-year-old musician ready to get back on stage after being diagnosed with bone cancer

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It's no secret that 15-year-old James Airington is passionate about music.

"My passion for music started in seventh grade.  Before that, I thought I sucked at singing and couldn't be good at anything," Airington said.

In seventh grade, he discovered the saxophone in band class and his voice in choir class.

"Honestly, it was one of the best years of my life!" he said.

However, the Ada student began to panic when his right arm that he uses to play the saxophone began aching one day. He didn't remember injuring it and it refused to get better.

Eventually, an MRI revealed a large tumor inside his humerus bone.

"I never expected it to be cancer," he recalls. "Although, it did cross my mind."

"So he had an osteosarcoma," says orthopedic oncologist Dr. Jeremy White. "It's a primary bone cancer that happens in the bone. That is where it forms."​

Dr. White at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center faced an incredibly delicate procedure.  He had to untangle the tumor from nerves and muscles, removing a section of James' arm bone and replacing it with cadaver bone.

"We can substitute for the bone, but it's trickier to get all the muscle attachments to work as good as they can to allow him to get the best function he can.  His bone will grow into and heal into this donor bone," Dr. White said.

"The hardest time for him was after the surgery and they removed the cancer in the bone, and the pain he went through," said Janet Airington, James' grandmother.

Airington also receives chemotherapy, and so far, there are no signs the osteosarcoma has spread to other bones or other regions of his body.

This soft-spoken teenager from Lehigh is at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center, getting a checkup and treatment, but also enjoying a session with a music therapist.  Together, they sing along to music on a laptop, working on some lyrics and raps.

He and his grandmother are all smiles due to his latest progress report.

"The doctor said my arm is healing really well, and that my mobility is beginning to be great," said Airington.

"With his positive attitude, that makes it all the more important,"  said Dr. Amanda Linz, his other cancer physician.

Airington credits his doctors' dedication to his well-being, and his great progress so far.

While he can't yet move his arm above his head, he can easily move his fingers and gently demonstrates how he can swing his arm out from his side.

He knows it will take months of physical therapy to regain full use of his fingers, itching to play his saxophone again.

"It's fun to learn about our patients and what makes them tick and what makes them happy because it makes our days better too,"  Dr Linz says.

"This place has been like a second home to us and the nurses are just incredible," Airington said.

Everyone hopes James heals fast, because they're waiting for him on stage.

If you'd like to help kids like James fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.

Kids with Courage is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.