Rain drops glaze the porch outside on a dreary Saturday, but inside lives a 14-year-old boy thankful for every drop of love he's received.
"My family supporting me (kept me going)," Hunter Hepler said. "Even when I didn't even think it was possible."
Ninth-grader Hepler was diagnosed June 5, 2013 with a rare brain tumor.
"I just hope to get back to my normal strength," Hepler said. "Ever since this started, I've gotten a lot lot more weaker than I expected."
His mother, Amy High, happens to be a nurse and said after pestering doctors to keep checking Hepler for continuous migraines, he was diagnosed with cancer.
"I don't think anything can prepare you for that kind of news," High said.
Doctors were able to remove the tumor from his brain through surgery, and as of now it's gone and cured. However, Hepler said the hardest part of the battle that continues is the chemotherapy and radiation.
"I had to deal with radiation and chemo at the same time," Hepler said.
It also wears on his family, too.
"You feel like that has to happen," High said. "It feels like they're putting poison in them, and that's hard to see as a mom."
Since he's been battling, the community has pulled together to support and lift the family.
"I can't even imagine going through this with my family," Jill Dillon, Help4Hunter organizer and family friend said.
Dillon, whose son played basketball with Hepler, jump-started awareness of the cancer battle with a Facebook page named Help4Hunter, complete with updates on his recovery, information on his upcoming benefit and thousands of "likes."
"Everything seems minor in the face of cancer in a 14-year-old," Dillon said.
Hepler's face now has a tumor-free brain behind it.
"If I wouldn't have been so persistent and pestered the doctors," High said. "I don't know where we'd be right now."
He also has 10 more months of chemotherapy and radiation.
"I've gone through so much," Hepler said. "I didn't really want to. But, in order for me to get better, I have to go through that."
He knows it's every drop of love that's kept him going through his journey, starting with his family, and has overflowed from his community.
Help4Hunter Benefit is set for Saturday, Oct. 12 at Nekoosa Community Center.
In the morning, there will be a 5K Run/Walk. The $15 registration is due by Oct. 2 with a guarantee of a free T-shirt. After Oct. 2, you may still register, and fee changes to $20.
If you'd like to donate to the family, or learn more information, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/help4hunterhepler
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