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'We all came alive in that moment’: Watch a victorious boy celebrate the end of his chemotherapy

By Lindsey Bever

February 7, 2017 at 11:57 AM

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After completing a yearlong chemotherapy treatment on Feb. 2, Jimmy Spagnolo, 6, rang a celebration bell and danced as his family and members of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC staff cheered for his accomplishment. (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC)

The 6-year-old boy in a Superman T-shirt and sneakers reached for the bell at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Jimmy Spagnolo, who has been battling an inoperable brain tumor since infancy, had finished a year-long round of chemotherapy and was eager to celebrate it.

"The bell signifies so many emotions — it can signify the sound of tears, strength, fear, courage, doubt, satisfaction, relief and happiness all coming through as one as people around them cheer this accomplishment," Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh wrote on Facebook. "The sound of that bell resonates in more ways than one. The emotion in the room is just unbelievable."

And Jimmy was about to give it a go.

"Are you ready?" someone asked him in a video of the emotional moment. "Okay, Jimmy!"

The boy grabbed the clapper and wildly rang the bell, then jumped up and down and let out an infectious squeal, as his parents, doctors and nurses cheered him on. He dove into his mother's lap for a moment, then quickly took the floor again for a victory dance that has since swept throughout social media. Commenters online say the scene has brought smiles to their faces as well as tears to their eyes.

"That was our battle cry for the year for this round of treatment," his father, Jim Spagnolo, 36, told CBS affiliate KDKA. "It was really special."

Jimmy's mother, 32-year-old Lacie Spagnolo, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that Jimmy has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy in six years; each time he completes one, "we get to breathe."

Related: [A sick toddler needed a liver — so her new nanny donated part of hers]

At only 4 months old, Jimmy, from Glenshaw, Pa., was diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma, an inoperable brain tumor (in Jimmy's case). Since then, his mother has been chronicling his fight on Facebook.

Jimmy completed treatment in 2014, according to his Facebook page, but tumor spots started to reappear, so he resumed treatment last year.

Over the past year he has been getting chemotherapy treatments, according to the hospital.

Jimmy still has a brain tumor, but it is now small and stable — and his doctors said they believe that as long as it does not grow, he may be able to live with it without any further treatment, his mother said.

For Jimmy, that was reason enough to celebrate, so the boy rang in the moment late last week.

Lacie Spagnolo said that when Jimmy finished his final chemotherapy treatment Thursday, doctors, nurses and therapists were waiting in the hospital hallway to take the 6-year-old to the bell.

"It was a huge celebration," she said. "The whole floor went crazy."

His parents later shared photos and videos on social media showing their son's elation.

"To share moments like these and feel the connection in the room with everyone is electrifying!!" his mother wrote on Facebook. "We all came alive in that moment to share with Jimmers is ending to something hard and his beginning to new hope for his future!! As you watch the videos take note how you feel … cause you're our family too, your all part of this and it is our pleasure to share this beautiful moment to each and every one of you!! There are no words to truly describe the feeling we felt today … so we will show you instead!!"

The videos — both on Jimmy's Facebook page and the hospital's page — have been viewed by more than 200,000 people over the past several days.

"I don't even know you and I'm crying happy tears," one person wrote on Jimmy's Facebook page. "Congratulations what a joyous moment. Jimmy is so sweet and his spirit is contagious."

Another wrote: "Gave me chills! So happy for this precious boy! I've never met him but he always makes me smile! God bless you and your family!!!"

"Congratulations superman," another person wrote.

Late Monday night, Jimmy's mother wrote on Facebook that his "ringing in a new beginning" video had caught fire and that it is "humbling to say the least."

"As much as Jimmy was positively affected by the events over the last few days it fills my heart to know his story, his triumphs will be remembered by so many," she wrote. "My hope is that in your moment of weakness at any given time in your life, you remember what Jimmy's strength looked like and I hope that image, that sound gives you strength."

This story has been updated.

Read more:

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Why a Georgia state trooper waited to tell four children they were orphans


Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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