When six-year-old Nixon Whatcott began complaining in January that his leg was hurting, his parents just assumed he was experiencing growing pains that would subside.
But the pain didn't go away and, after three weeks of grievances, Nick and Janessa decided to take their son to the local hospital.
Nothing could have prepared the parents of four, from Bluffdale, Utah, for the shocking news.
Nixon was not experiencing growing pains - he had cancerous tumors growing on his leg and they were spreading, leaving him with just a 30 percent chance of survival.
Nixon Whatcott, six (pictured), of Bluffdale, Utah, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the most common form of bone cancer
Nixon began complaining in January that his leg was hurting, but his parents, Nick (left) and Janessa (right), just assumed he was experiencing growing pains that would subside
Janessa said that whenever Nixon would complain of the pain in his leg, 'he'd be off running' the next day.
'He's really active, so my husband and I thought maybe he'd sprained his ankle or had a hairline fracture,' she told PEOPLE.
When the family finally went to hospital for X-rays, Janessa assumed that doctors might be able to provide suggestions for how to remedy the pain.
Instead, the doctor asked the couple to speak with him privately. He showed them a tumor the size of an egg on Nixon's femur.
Within a few hours, the family was at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, where, after taking a sample of the tumor, doctors determined it was cancerous.
Several smaller tumors were also discovered on Nixon's left femur. The diagnosis was osteosarcoma.
After three more weeks of complaints, Nixon (pictured, with Janessa) was taken to a local hospital for an X-ray. There it was discovered that a tumor the size of an egg was on his femur
After a visit to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, several smaller tumors were also on Nixon's left femur and the diagnosis was osteosarcoma (Pictured, Nixon, left and right)
'My husband and I lost it. We felt that loss that he'd been given this thing and we couldn't take it away from him,' Janessa told PEOPLE.
'There was nothing we could do for him. We were concerned what the cancer treatments would be. How were we gonna tell him?'
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. It occurs when the cells that grow new bone form a cancerous tumor.
Most tumors usually develop around the knee - where Nixon's began - either in the lower part of the thighbone or the upper part of the shinbone.
If the cancer has not spread, the long-term survival rate is between 70 and 75 percent.
If osteosarcoma has already spread, such as to the lungs or other bones at diagnosis, the long-term survival rate is about 30 percent.
The family learned in the next week that the cancer had spread to his