BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – An elementary student in Beavercreek got a ride home from school in style, celebrating officially being five years cancer-free Thursday.
8-year-old Alexander Zehr-Rivera’s school and family came together to surprise him now that he officially can be called a cancer survivor.
Alex was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at 21 months old and at the time of diagnosis, it had already spread throughout his body. “It wasn’t looking good when we first found it,” Alex’s father Roger Zehr said.
Alex went through five cycles of chemotherapy, surgery, two bone marrow transplants, and other treatments for almost two years. He beat cancer on November 4, 2016. Five years later, the cancer hasn’t returned, making Alex a cancer survivor.
“It is known to come back with vengeance, so we were really worried, but once he hit that five years, it’s around the 99 percentile that it’ll never come back,” Zehr said.
His parents and school found that milestone worthy of a celebration with a surprise. Alex’s classmates lined up outside of E.G. Shaw Elementary School in Beavercreek Thursday afternoon, holding signs and cheering as he exited the building.
Waiting for him, a limo to drive him home from school. “Alex loves limos, he said he wanted to have a limo, so we said why not.” Alex’s mother Nelcy Rivera said.
Alex, three of his best friends and family got in the limo for a ride around town, as his classmates cheered to send them off. “I think this is an awesome message to really, to show that acceptance is still out there,” Zehr said.
Alexander’s family hopes that his story can inspire people to donate to organizations that support childhood cancer research, which only receives about 4 percent of federal cancer research funding.