John Oliver Zippay, also known as J.O., received a final round of chemotherapy two days after Christmas, ending a three-year period of fighting leukemia. To celebrate his return to St. Helen Catholic School in Newbury, classmates, teachers, and his family decided to have a standing ovation on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
“He’s doing great! Yeah, he’s feeling better. A lot of his side effects over the years involved his legs from the steroids and he’s doing great,” his father John Zippay said.
According to CNN, it started on Halloween 2016, when J.O. fell and hit his head on the headboard of his bed. His face became discolored and he was lethargic, his father told CNN. After several blood tests at the hospital, the doctors called J.O.’s parents in the middle of the night urging them to get their son to the emergency room.
“It was a real shock because that’s when the word cancer started getting thrown around,” John said to CNN. “Everything just stopped right there and then.”
Based on St. Helen’s Principal Patrick Gannon, despite his several treatments and the days staying in the hospital, John Oliver never fell behind in his studies.
“Him having to miss some of the time was tough, but the class was just so happy to see him come back,” Gannon told CNN affiliate WJW.
On the last day of chemotherapy, the nurses, family, and friends gathered around J.O. when he rang the bell set aside for patients who finished their last treatments. His mother, Megan Zippay, captured the moment on Facebook.
“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,” John Zippay said. “He rang it so hard, he was so proud.”
“You want that for your child, to grow up and get dirty and play outside and have fun and we kept him in a bubble so we’re excited. Looking forward to the future and having our little boy back,” his mom said.