As anyone who has experienced the long road of chemotherapy can tell you, choosing to never give up day in and day out is an act of major proportions – especially for a little kid.
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Six-year-old Nathan Herber has been battling stage 4 T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2018. For 900 days, his young life was radically altered as he underwent nonstop chemo treatments. But that all changed in March when he – and hundreds of others in his hometown of Rochester, Minnesota – finally got the chance to celebrate his last day of chemo!
Nathan was first diagnosed just a few short weeks after his joyous fourth birthday party at Walt Disney World.
“We thought things were pretty awesome … you know, not a care in the world,” his dad, Andy Herber, told Fox News.
Then suddenly, a large mass was found in Nathan’s chest, and the Herbers’ lives came to a halt. In a span of two short weeks, Nathan went from sitting next to Mickey Mouse to sitting in a hospital with an IV.
“The oncologist said that his immune system won’t be able to handle fighting off any of the infections, so we pulled him entirely from school,” Andy explained. “He had just no ability to fight off anything.”
The devoted dad made the tough decision to take a year off work to help Nathan get through his treatments and transition into homeschooling while his siblings, twin brother Justin and older brother Grant, remained in school.
They kept the door open for Nathan to be able to attend school on days when he was feeling better, but on all the other days, Justin would fill his seat with a stuffed monkey to save Nathan’s spot while he was gone.
Some weeks were spent in the car hopping around from infusion centers to chemo appointments, while others required Nathan to stay in the hospital for lengthy amounts of time.
There was even a point at which Nathan remained on life support for over a month.
“It’s heartbreaking how sick he was,” Andy explained. “It was day-to-day where we didn’t think he was going to make it.”
Through it all, the Herbers were overwhelmed by the support of Nathan’s school, a private Catholic school called St. Francis of Assisi.
“Every time I would drop the kids off at school … like every teacher and the custodians and the principal’s office staff and the kids would all say, ‘How is Nathan today?'” Andy said.
Finally, on March 25, 2021, the long-awaited moment finally arrived: Nathan received his last dose of treatment!
In celebration of this unforgettable milestone, Nathan’s family devoted the entire day to their 6-year-old fighter! They loaded up in their minivan, and as one of their first stops of the day, they headed to Nathan’s school to see some of his classmates.
Instead, they were received by an entire parade! As the Herbers drove up, they were greeted by 300 students and faculty members, who were all holding heart-shaped signs and shouting Nathan’s name.
The Herber family was stunned, Nathan most of all!
“He was supposed to just kind of go say ‘hi’ to his pre-K class, you know, the classmates that he had met,” Andy said. “Then it turned into the entire school … 300 people chanting ‘Nathan.'”
As they slowly drove by the crowd, Nathan finally realized what his community already knows: He is truly a hero!
“It was a pretty powerful moment,” Andy said. And it’s one that none of them will ever forget!
Watch Nathan’s heartwarming “welcome home” parade in the video below, and click here to donate to Andy’s nonprofit, the Super Herber Bros Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting other families and children in difficult health-related circumstances. Don’t forget to make someone’s week by sharing this story.
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