GP father raises awareness of son's lost battle with osteosarcoma

Keeping his memory alive: Theodore George Vasilopoulos died of osteosarcoma at age 19.

Keeping his memory alive: Theodore George Vasilopoulos died of osteosarcoma at age 19.

A father who lost his son to a common type of bone cancer is raising awareness, in the hope other Australian parents will learn more about the deadly disease.

George Vasilopoulos, a GP who lives in Hong Kong with his family, is voicing a tribute for Theodore George Vasilopoulos, a bright, young student and former Sans Souci resident.

Theo died in April this year, age 19, of osteosarcoma, which affect cells that grow bone tissue. It often affects the leg, and may occur in young adults with growing bones.

It affects about 35 per cent of bone cancers, according to Cancer Council NSW. Most are high-grade tumours.

The teenager fought the disease for almost five years.

What started as knee pain, was thought to be a sports strain, but further tests showed a 34 centimetre tumour in his right femur.

A vital drug he required, mifamurtide, was not approved for treatment in Australia at the time of diagnosis, so Theo had treatment including chemotherapy and surgery, in Hong Kong, Greece, China, and Germany.

The high-achieving student wanted to return home to Sydney to either pursue an academic or career in politics.

In March this year, NSW Education Standards rewarded Theo with the Brother John Taylor Memorial Award - an achievement received by only three people in the state, for their outstanding academic achievements while facing extreme adversity.

"Want to raise awareness of this terrible condition to honour his memory - he would've love that," his father, Dr Vasilopoulos said.

"Early symptoms, as vague as they may be, should not be dismissed and should be checked out.

"May his death mean something, may it save other lives.

"We want to make a difference and not have another parent have to go what we went through and what our child went through."

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