Young Cancer Patient gets his Wish

When you’re 12 years old, your biggest worry is usually about beating your friend in the latest video game or winning the next baseball game.  12-year-olds don’t often hear the words, “You have cancer.”  Hunter Baker is one who did.

In April, Hunter was diagnosed with a tumor in his femur called osteosarcoma.  He immediately began chemotherapy.  The next phase of his treatment would include major surgery to remove a large portion of his femur.  Dr. Ronald Hugate, Orthopedic Surgeon at the Denver Clinic for Extremities at Risk at P/SL, specializes in this type of surgery.  While Dr. Hugate met with Hunter and his family, he realized this young man had a passion for the military, especially Black Hawk helicopters. 

Hunter was fascinated by Dr. Hugate’s experience in Afghanistan as a member of the Army’s forward surgical team.  He asked if he could meet some soldiers.  Unbeknownst to Hunter, Dr. Hugate took his request a few steps further. 

Hugate called Fort Carson to ask if there was any way Hunter could see a Black Hawk up close.  It turned out that an Army Medivac Unit in Fort Carson had just received a new Black Hawk that needed training. 

The crew arranged a training flight to P/SL the morning of Hunter’s surgery.  The hospital staff surprised Hunter with a trip to the helipad where he was able to climb inside the cockpit for a personal tour.  Hunter, his family, Army soldiers and even Air Force Airmen all spent about an hour visiting on the helipad and taking photos.  When it was time to leave, Hunter was able to stand on a nearby walkway and feel the force of the Blackhawk’s rotor wash as it took off.  The pilots did one last fly by to see the smile on Hunter’s face and give him the thumbs up. 

Surgery was a success.  Hunter says someday when he’s a Black Hawk pilot, he’ll return the favor and create a lifelong memory for another young cancer patient.  

Click here for the full photo album, or you can see a few of the photos below.