Conner beat cancer and became Air Force Cadet for a Day


conner arnold

At the start of 2013, 4-year-old Conner’s family was getting ready to make a permanent military post move from Texas to Colorado Springs. Conner visited urgent care twice in the weeks leading up to the move for an upper respiratory infection and strep.

On the day the moving truck was being loaded, Conner was again taken to urgent care with a high fever.

An X-ray revealed a large mass on Conner’s upper left lung, which they thought was pneumonia. He was admitted to the ER and put on antibiotics, but the mass did not shrink. Further testing showed the mass was not in his lung, but in his upper left chest wall. Conner underwent surgery immediately.

Two days later on Valentine’s Day, doctors diagnosed Conner with Ewings sarcoma – a rare and highly aggressive bone cancer.

Conner’s family drove overnight from Texas to continue treatment as soon as possible in Colorado. They arrived at Children’s Hospital Colorado the next day for more testing. Conner started his first round of chemotherapy on February 21.

After completing the first six rounds of chemotherapy, Conner successfully underwent extensive chest wall surgery to remove the remainder of the tumor, a couple of ribs and surrounding tissue.

In the months since his diagnosis, Conner has endured a bone marrow aspirate and biopsy, three surgeries, 17 rounds of chemotherapy, 156 doses of six different chemotherapy medicines, 12 blood transfusions, 42 Children’s Colorado visits and 107 visits to Briargate Outpatient Specialty Clinic in Colorado Springs.

Conner was declared cancer-free on June 7, 2013, and completed his 17th and final round of chemotherapy in December.

“We are looking forward and not back,” said Conner’s mom, Cristie. “Conner is our family’s blessing.”

Today, Conner is a soft-spoken 6-year-old with a great sense of humor who loves sports and his siblings. On May 1, Conner was an Air Force Academy Cadet for a Day alongside his freshman cadet brother, Christian. He visited the airfield, led cadet squadron 40 to lunch, “flew” a Cessna, jumped out of a mock airplane and trained with the academy parachute team.

Together, Conner and his family are raising awareness for childhood cancer and the Bone Marrow Registry through Conner’s Crusade, Love Hope Strength Foundation, and Genny’s Hope Foundation.

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