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Kentwood teenager beats his cancer in every sense of the word

A 17-year-old declared a symbolic victory over lymphoma he battled for months.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Since May 2019, Henry Dai has been in the fight of his life. It started with a bad cold and grew into the realization that he had lymphoma.

"It's a very challenging tumor because it can develop very, very quickly," said Dr. James Fahner. "It can threaten the function and structure of nearby organs and it comes on so dramatically and so suddenly that sometimes the kids are very critically ill at their initial diagnosis."

The East Kentwood High School student fought hard against cancer and recently beat it. On Friday, Jan. 24, Dai got to stick it to cancer in a big way.

Two 3D printed models were made of the tumor that once was an unwelcome guest in his chest. Dai smashed one of them with a sledge hammer while members of the media and leaders from Spectrum Health looked on. Dai's doctors signed the second model, which he'll take with him as a reminder of his victory.

Credit: Chris Clark/Spectrum Health Beat
Dr. James Fahner signs a 3D printed model of Henry Dai's tumor as Dai looks on.

"I think it's just great that I just get this experience. It's like a feeling that I really beat cancer, but literally as well," Dai said.

When Dai graduates he hopes to go to either the University of Michigan or an Ivy League school to study either biochemistry or cellular biology. With the knowledge he picks up, he hopes to help other cancer patients down the road.

"To see Henry be able to come full circle and really take control of his health and his life in this way was really gratifying," Fahner said.

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