CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An eighth-grader from Northeast Ohio was recognized at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards for her incredible strength and accomplishments, despite her health battles.
Skylar Scarnecchia is an eighth grade student from Champion Township in Trumbull County.
She was diagnosed at the age of 10 years old with a rare form of cancer and eventually required a right foot amputation.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed Scarnecchia with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of soft-tissue cancer, after she complained of persistent foot pain. A full body scan revealed three more concerning spots on her lung.
After three months of chemotherapy, two of the three spots on her lungs disappeared, but the last did not respond to treatment.
Scarnecchia’s family and doctors decided to move forward with amputating her foot because of the location of the tumor and cancer.
It only took approximately five months for Scarnecchia to adapt to her prosthetic leg.
Even with all of the health struggles, Scarnecchia overcame her obstacles and is now a star student-athlete at her school, participating in basketball, soccer, track and field, and volleyball.
“From the very first time I met Skylar, she had a bright spin on things,” said Dr. Nathan Mesko, director of Musculoskeletal Oncology in the Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “She has overcome so many hurdles, and despite massive obstacles, has turned every situation into something positive. Her fighting spirit and tenacity is truly inspiring.”
Scarnecchia hopes her story will raise awareness for sarcoma and show that being an amputee should not be considered a hindrance.
“Fighting for my life motivated me to inspire others and tell them I survived,” said Scarnecchia. “I’m so humbled and honored to be given this opportunity to start sharing my story and hopefully inspire other kids by letting them know they can win what they may think is tiring and impossible.”
Scarnecchia received the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Courage Award during Wednesday night’s ceremony. The reward is given to an athlete who displays courage both on and off the field or court.