TEQUESTA, Fla.- - Just 9-years-old, he's battling cancer for nearly three months now.
What appeared to be growing pains, turned out to be so much worse.
Doctors say 9-year-old Dayton Merritt's cancer spread quickly. Thanks to mom's fast action, doctors caught it in time.
While Dayton recovers from chemotherapy, his mom Megan Merritt is by his side. “Sometimes I'll just throw up the food that I ate,” explained Dayton.
He's lighthearted about his condition and new look. “I can just take little tiny cups and stick it to my head,” said Dayton.
In March, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare cancer in his leg.
“That's the moment where it seemed like we started to live in a bad dream,” said Megan.
Days earlier, Dayton, who loves baseball, knew something was wrong. “It was extreme growing pains,” said Dayton. “It felt like it was either a ligament or a broken bone.”
Megan, explained, “He started to limp and it was getting worse and worse.”
So she acted fast. Megan took her son to Dr. Gary Wexler, an orthopedic surgeon, with Palm Beach Orthopedic Institute. Dr. Wexler spotted the tumor in Dayton's femur. “What was a red flag with Dayton is he really didn't have any kind of sports injury or trauma,” explained Wexler. “This just came out of the blue.”
Dr. Wexler says there are warning signs parents can look for. “Limited range of motion of his knee,” said Dr. Wexler. “He wouldn't bend his knee because it was extremely painful. Then when you examine his knee, he had a hard mass.”
Since Dayton's been home, get-well cards are pouring in from friends at Limestone Creek Elementary School.
“I'm happy they're doing it because I'm sort of bored all the time,” said Dayton.
He has major surgery coming up to save his leg. Megan explained, “They'll have to do the knee and about half the femur will be removed.”
Ask him how he feels about that. “I'm not really thinking about it too much because I'm not really worried about surgery,” said Dayton.
The lesson Megan hopes to share? Listen to your kids and trust your instincts.
Dayton's surgery is Tuesday in Miami.
So far, the community has raised more than $17,000 for medical costs.
To help, the family has set up a GoFundMe account.