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Six-year-old Celebrates Being Cancer Free

POLK CITY, Iowa –School is out and that means summer time fun for families. A Polk City family is really looking forward to the time off. They didn't get to enjoy the relaxing season last year.

Harper Stribe is excited for summer, especially to go to the pool. “It's fun and it gets me wet," she said. The six-year-old hasn’t been able to do that for about a year when she started cancer treatments.

This summer it is time to celebrate. Her mom, Nicole Stribe, asked her, "Remember the dance you did when you found out you were cancer free.? Can you do your cancer dance?"

She had just finished pre-school last year when her mom noticed a bump on her check. It swelled up and they went to the doctor. At first, they thought it was a viral infection. It turned out to be something more serious. "She has embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma of her cheek area. It grows within the muscle, but it can attach itself around the bone, and things like that," said Stribe.

Harper started a 42-week protocol of chemotherapy and had radiation. She made weekly trips to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Her family got lots of support. "Being through something like this, you really appreciate the family and friends around you and how supportive they are," said Nicole.

Sister Madeline Stribe added, "It's been pretty hectic because there's moments it's just been hard for us and moments that have been easy for us."

While the tumor is still in her check, the cancer is gone. Harper celebrated the milestone just last month while wrapping up kindergarten. Her mom said, "We're so excited for her to get to go to first grade, to grow up because I know she will do great things.”

Harper will still get regular check-ups, and she heads back to Iowa City next month for dental work, which is a side effect from the radiation to her cheek.