“Hunter Strong” – Triton Freshman Fighting the Battle of his Life

May 18, 2018 10:34 PM

(ABC 6 News) – Rochester is known as the “Med City,” its destination medical center for the medical triumphs made every day—and it brings out the most courageous and strong people around, like Hunter Moen.

Moen, a “sports nut” and freshman basketball and baseball player at Triton high school in Dodge Center, knows all about curveballs—and in his life, he’s already seen all sorts of different pitches thrown his way, and it’s been a battle.


Back in December, during the winter boys basketball season, Moen’s leg was hurting.

“We thought it was sports pain,” Hunter’s mother, Becky Dominie, said. “We thought it was related to basketball.”

After seeing a doctor in December, Hunter returned home. For the next month following that visit to the doctor, Hunter was experiencing pain in the same area, but it had grown worse.

“It was during sports, it really hurt to walk around,” Moen said. “I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

“It just proceeded to get worse on him,” Dominie recalled. “He would be getting up in the middle of the night, taking baths, trying to ease the pain, hot-packing, cold-packing, eating ibuprofen.”

On January 23, Moen received some news which made his mother’s “heart drop,” as a tumor was found in his left leg.

“I just went blank,” Moen said.

Later, the tumor was diagnosed as Osteosarcoma—the American Cancer Society describes it as the “most common type of cancer that starts in the bone.” Moen had been diagnosed with bone cancer, which was shocking considering the fact that cancer doesn’t run in his family.

“He didn’t really say too much about it, to begin with,” Dominie said. “I don’t think it really hit him until they told us it was actually cancer.”

“That night was when the doctor came in and sat down and said ‘we’re going to be blunt, it’s cancer.’” Hunter’s aunt and Becky’s sister, Tammy French, recalled. “Hunter kind of pulled the covers over his head, and Becky was clearly upset and we were just like ‘ok, what do we do now?’”

What Tammy, Hunter, and Becky did was they tried to stay positive, as Hunter began chemotherapy treatment in February.

“As long as he’s happy, I try to be happy,” Dominie said. “I do have my down times, especially when I’m by myself.”

After a few weeks of chemotherapy, doctors had told Hunter that his tumor had grown—his left leg would have to undergo a full-amputation.

“We just kept telling him that it’s his left leg, he would have driving rights and everything else because he would have his right leg and he’d get a prosthetic,” Dominie said. “He would eventually learn to walk again, and hopefully move on like a normal person would for the most part.”

As the tumor grew, cancer had spread to Hunter’s lungs, where he developed “spots.”

“I was having trouble breathing (one night),” Moen said. “That was really hard.”

Since having his leg amputated, he’s switched to a different chemotherapy treatment. Dominie said Moen’s his in “good spirits,” but what has also helped Moen breathe a little easier these days is the outpouring of support from the Triton community.

“People were coming in on scheduled visits,” French said. “Just getting to see his friends, he wasn’t stuck to social media, that made a big difference for him.”

Recently, Moen gained enough strength to attend a Triton Junior Varsity baseball game to watch his teammates play.

“(It helps) being around friends and just ignoring all the stuff that’s going on,” Moen said. “That’s fun and exciting.”

Dominie said Moen loves to ride his bicycle for a hobby, but because of his amputation, he was unable to use his regular bicycle—so the school donated a hand-pedaled bike to Hunter.

“It was amazing that they’ve all stepped up and have been helping,” Dominie said. “There’s no way we can ever thank everyone enough.”

The moments of support from Hunter’s family, friends, and the Triton community have been important and memorable for Moen, or who his aunt coins as “Mr. Popular”—but his cancer is still active, as he’s still in the middle of chemotherapy treatment.

“If you do a lot, you just get really tired,” Moen said about the treatment.

Right now, for Moen’s family, it’s important for them to take everything “one day at a time.”

“We’ve learned not to live past a day,” Dominie said. “Sometimes, it’s even by the hour.”

Moen’s next chemotherapy update will come in June, and all Dominie wants is for her son to feel better and be healed.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re just waiting to see what the scans are going to pull off,” Dominie said. “Hoping for a miracle that this chemo works. If I could take (his pain) in a heartbeat, I would.”

Moen’s favorite baseball player is Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. For his “Make-A-Wish,” Moen is hoping to meet Trout, his “all-time favorite” player.

On Saturday, there will be a benefit for Moen at the Dodge Center American Legion. Money raised at the benefit will go towards providing Hunter with the care he needs and help cover additional medical expenses.

For those who can’t make the benefit but would like to help Hunter, donations are being accepted at Citizens State Bank in Dodge Center, Mantorville, and Hayfield. Those wishing to donate just have to mention that they’re “helping Hunter” to make the proper donation.

Moen also has a GoFundMe page, where his family is also accepting donations. 


Sean Tehan

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