Wind River athlete hurdled rare cancer, now in top form

Apr 25, 2014 By Randy Tucker, Sports Writer

A nagging bump on Dylan Lookingbill's arm was diagnosed as multi-cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer virtually unknown in healthy, athletic young men.

It seemed like just another bump from a high tackle, but this one wouldn't go away.

Wind River senior Dylan Lookingbill was familiar with bruises brought on by hard tackles on the football field. He was the leading rusher for the Cougar football team last fall.

With Wind River's single-wing offense he was hit early and often on nearly every play.

Bumps on the arms and legs are common in contact sports, and the muscle contusions usually heal and disappear a few days or a few weeks after contact.

They aren't supposed to last for months.

Lookingbill ignored the bump on the outside of his right triceps, but his mother Chris wasn't so sure.

"I didn't like the looks of it," she said.

A trip to the doctor's office in November quickly escalated to an appointment with specialists at Denver Children's Hospital.

The bump was diagnosed as a form of multi-cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer in middle-aged to elderly men and virtually unknown in healthy, athletic young men.

"It was rare because it was a multi-cell cancer," Chris said.

Tests, scans and medical consults accelerated, and the sarcoma was removed Dec. 18 at the Colorado facility.

"It wasn't even sore," Lookingbill said. "But it hurt where they took the skin graft off my thigh."

The sarcoma was encapsulated in the adipose tissue between the skin of Lookingbill's upper arm and his triceps muscle. Lookingbill has a very low body fat percentage, so the tumor made an obvious bulge on the outside of his right arm.

The surgery was a complete success, and physicians determined the sarcoma was isolated to his right arm. The operation removed it completely.

He was declared cancer free on a follow up visit on Jan. 3.

The procedure left a scar about the size of a baseball on his arm, but that should fade as the skin graft grows permanently into place.

In spite of the surgery, Lookingbill returned to the wrestling mat for an abbreviated four-match season and placed sixth in the Class 2-A 152 pound division in February at the state tournament.

Now fully recovered, Looking-bill is ranked first in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300-meter intermediates in Class 2-A and a favorite for the state finals next month.

The School District 6 community rallied around the family. Wind River High School holds an Athletic Service Week each year, and Lookingbill was the focus of this year's efforts.

Fundraisers, including silent and traditional auctions, raised $5,000 to help cover his medical expenses.

The procedure cost the Lookingbill family $49,000, and Dylan has to have complete scans every three months for the next three years at a cost of $10,000 per scan.

"There is a poker run scheduled for June 21st from the B&K Campground, through Midvale and Pavillion and ending at the Union Bar in Hudson to raise money," Dylan's father Pat Lookingbill said.

Dylan plans to work for the Bureau of Land Management this summer as a field technician and will enroll at Central Wyoming College this fall. He plans to graduate from the University of Wyoming with a major in wildlife science and possibly continue work for the BLM working with wild horses.

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