Teachers and students at a Texas school banded together to throw a surprise birthday party for their 9-year-old classmate, who was absent for nearly half a year after he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Third grader Elijah Lewis of Baytown celebrated his 9th birthday surrounded by classmates after telling his mother that all he wanted for the occasion was to go back to school.
“He just couldn’t believe it was happening because he was away for five months,” his mom, Lakesha Lewis, told InsideEdition.com. “They had gifts for him, they had birthday stickers, cards for him hanging on the wall, shirts signed for him from the entire third grade class. I don’t think he knew it was going to be this big surprise birthday party.”
His mom explained that when he told her he was sad because he wouldn’t be able to see his friends for his birthday due to his treatments, she knew it was important to make sure he had the celebration of his life.
“He just misses being able to interact with other kids,” Lakesha explained. “He enjoyed learning things and coming home and being able to say, ‘This is what I learned today.’”
His dad Billie Lewis added, “We can sometimes see a tear in his eye, and he’ll say, ‘I’m bored,’ or ‘I want to go to school.’”
He said after school let out for winter vacation last year, he noticed Elijah acting a little sluggish or tired, and often preferring to take a nap rather than play with his two younger brothers.
Elijah was visiting with a friend when his mom, an oncology nurse, called Lakesha, and told her to take him to the hospital.
“I left home thinking we’re going to the emergency room and we’re going to get prescribed some antibiotics and we’ll go home,” she said. “We just left an hour ago thinking everything was fine, and then I’m calling my husband over the phone, telling him our kid has cancer.”
For the duration of his chemotherapy treatment, Elijah had to stay home from school, since his immune system didn’t allow him to be in the classroom.
“For a while, it was hard because it was such a big change,” his mom said. “We found out right at the end of football season for him. He’s crazy for football.”
Although Elijah has nearly four years of chemotherapy ahead of him, he is now declared in remission and can now join his friends at school.
To donate to Elijah’s medical treatments, visit their GoFundMe page.