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KIDS WITH COURAGE: Nathan Herber

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- KTTC is honored to introduce viewers monthly to some of the youngest among us, facing the unthinkable with bravery and optimism. In our ninth "Kids With Courage" segment, Caitlin Alexander introduces us to 6-year-old Nathan Herber.

Nathan loves Mario and video games

Nathan has now appeared on TV screens across the country, being celebrated by his Rochester Catholic Schools' family at St. Francis of Assisi School this spring after completing 2.5 years of cancer treatment.

"I feel like the only thing we can do to vindicate his suffering is to use it to raise awareness," said Nathan's mom, Becky.

Becky, along with her husband Andy, and sons Grant, Justin and Nathan know the impacts of childhood cancer all too well. Their journey started back in September 2018 when one of the twin boys developed a wheezy cough.

Herber family in the hospital

"One day [Nathan] came running up the stairs, and when he hit the top of the stairs, he was very winded and made a comment to me about hard it was to run up and down the stairs," Becky said. "And I just had that mom instinct that something was wrong."

That mom instinct led them to a clinic that day, where they pushed for an X-ray.

Andy works with cancer patients and immediately understood the gravity of the results.

"It was glaringly obvious from the X-ray that he had a large chest mass," Becky said.

Nathan had T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a type of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Within days, he started chemo.

"I thought it was a dream. I didn't think it could actually be happening," said Grant, 8.

The family relied on the guidance of Dr. Vilmarie Rodriguez, who was at Mayo Clinic at the time. She now practices at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio.

Nathan and Dr. Rodriguez

"Faith, perseverance and I think resilience is the word that describes little Nathan," she told KTTC.

The amount of treatment each week varied. However, during the course of treatment, Nathan developed a serious case of a respiratory virus known as RSV.

"He was on pretty much every sedative you can think of in the ICU on life support beating levels on Mario," Andy said, sharing videos of Nathan playing his video games.

In fact, when asked what his favorite thing to do is, Nathan responded with a correction.

"That I can only do for a little bit?"

Nathan is very passionate about his video games.

While Nathan officially entered "remission" early on in his treatment, it didn't mean his battle was over.

He still had to proceed through the 2.5 years.

Nathan and his brothers did at-home learning over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, because he was immunocompromised.

Even now that he's through with treatment, doctors are keeping a very close eye on him for five years.

The Herber brothers expect to return to RCS this fall.

The Herbers have a website that supports important causes, including the fight against childhood cancer.

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Caitlin Alexander

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