Tonight, the New Orleans Saints selection will be announced by a 13 year old Louisiana boy named Markell Gregoire from Iberia Parish, along with Commissioner Goodell. Markell suffers from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
He is a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Markell was selected by St. Jude's to fly to New York for night one of the Draft. Part of the NFL and St. Jude partnership is to have the young man "announce a pick" on Thursday night. Of course, his favorite team is the Saints and would like to announce the Saints pick.
Markell has always been an active kid. He loves basketball, football and playing outside. But in late 2009, Markell started to complain of leg pain. His mom, Monique, took him to the doctor, who thought Markell might be exhibiting signs of early arthritis.
One afternoon when Monique picked Markell up from school, she noticed his left knee was terribly swollen. Alarmed, she took him to a local emergency room, where an X-ray revealed a tumor near Markell's left knee.
The doctor believed Markell suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, and immediately referred the family to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®. "I didn't know much about cancer," Monique said. "I was in shock. All I could do was cry."
At St. Jude, doctors confirmed the diagnosis. Markell underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy, after which he had surgery to remove the tumor with a limb-salvaging procedure, where the diseased bone was replaced with a prosthesis that could be extended as he grew. Markell then underwent 26 more weeks of chemotherapy, as well as physical therapy.
Markell returned home after treatment and visited St. Jude for regular checkups. In June 2012, he started to experience discomfort in his left leg. St. Jude doctors determined that the cancer had returned. Markell's left leg below his knee had to be amputated. He underwent physical therapy and adjusted quickly to using a prosthetic leg. He was home by the time eighth grade started in fall 2012.
But in early 2013, Markell's upper left leg began to swell and hurt. At St. Jude, doctors confirmed the cancer was again back. Disease was found above his left knee and in a spot on his neck. This time around, Markell's treatment is more aggressive. Recently, he underwent surgery to remove the remaining bone and joint in his left leg. He is currently undergoing radiation to his leg and neck, and he will also receive 12 rounds of chemotherapy.
Monique is grateful for the treatment and care Markell has received at St. Jude. "Everyone is so wonderful," she said. "St. Jude is like a whole different world." Despite everything he's been through, Markell is an outgoing kid who loves karaoke, watching sports and playing the Wii.
And as was previously announced, former Saints S Steve Gleason will announce the third-round selection for the team, from Radio City Music Hall.