John Oliver Zippay kicked cancer's butt and was welcomed back to school by his classmates in the best way possible.
There is nothing more heartwarming or wholesome than witnessing the pure, unadulterated joy of a child. Even more so when that child has just kicked cancer's butt. After a difficult journey through chemotherapy, six-year-old John Oliver Zippay was finally able to beat the disease and head back to school. Once he got there, he was given the best surprise ever: a standing ovation from all his classmates and peers. Flooded with cheers, applause, smiles, and high-fives, little John was given a homecoming welcome that will go down in history. Now, John and his parents are just looking forward to doing all the things that "regular" six-year-old kids do, CNN reports.
For the past three years, John has been in and out of his school in Newbury, Ohio. After he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016 at the young age of three years old, his education was disrupted by regular trips to the hospital where he received his chemotherapy treatment. The six-year-old was diagnosed around Halloween when he fell and hit his head on his bed's headboard. John's face became discolored and he was lethargic. What followed was a rushed visit to the doctor and a series of blood tests. Then, in the middle of the night, John's doctor phoned his parents and asked the family to rush to the emergency room. That was when they received the news.
His father explained, "It was a real shock because that's when the word cancer started getting thrown around." When the little boy's doctor revealed that all signs pointed towards leukemia, the family's whole world came to a pause. "Everything just stopped right there and then," he said. The next 18 days were spent in the hospital. Little John's parents and his older sister stood by his side as he underwent bone marrow biopsies, blood transfusions, and several tests. Once the family received the official diagnosis, they spent the following three years in the hospital with John. This meant that he missed out on a lot of activities that "normal" kids would have had the opportunity to enjoy - including attending school.
However, even though he missed so much school, John never fell behind. Additionally, his principal, Patrick Gannon, stated in an interview, "Him having to miss some of the time was tough, but the class was just so happy to see him come back." Moreover, there is no doubt that John and his family had the best support system ever. "We consider ourselves so lucky and so blessed," his father stated. "We've had so much support from family, friends, community members, the school and hospital staff." On his last day of chemotherapy, he got to ring the ever-famous bell that patients are allowed to ring when they complete their last treatment. Recalling the moment, his dad said, "And that's when I told him, 'Okay buddy, you gotta ring the bell. Ring it for all the kids who didn't have the chance to ring it,' and it's like everything went into slow motion for me. He rang it so hard, he was so proud." Perhaps his welcome back to school made him even more proud to have braved the battle against cancer. Now, he's just excited to get back to school and live life like a "normal" six-year-old.