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Friday
Jun092017

Teacher snaps photo of cancer survivor on 1st and last day of school

Emily Herod (KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- A touching image of a first-grader on her last day of school is gaining viral attention after she posed with a photo of herself during her fight with cancer.

Sophi Eber's teacher, Emily Herod, snapped the photo on May 25 to show the difference of what one school year made for her student. Herod then sent the photo to 7-year-old Sophi's parents.

"That before and after is so striking and really exemplifies how strong she is and how much she's gone through," mom Bethany Eber of Kansas City, Missouri, told ABC News. "My husband and I wept. It's such an incredible picture of who she is and the fact that her smile is the same no matter what she's going through. She loved school and school, for her, represented normalcy."

Sophi was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in February 2016 when she was halfway through kindergarten.

She has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy, 14 rounds of radiation, five rounds of immunotherapy and a surgery to remove what was left of the tumor in her abdomen.

As of Friday, Sophi's treatments have "killed every cancer cell in her body" and her recent scans have come back clear, Eber said.

On Aug. 15, 2016, Sophi began school as a first-grader. Herod told ABC News that she took photos of all the students on the first day of school and posted them outside her classroom.

On May 25, the last day of school, Herod said she was removing the kids' first day of school pictures from the bulletin board when she came across Sophi's snapshot.

"I just sat there and I stared at it and got choked up," said Herod of Renner Elementary School in Kansas City. "She missed school once a month to go to New York for treatment. She came to us so sick and couldn't make it through recess without taking a break and to see the way she looked on the last day of school just blew me away."

Herod emailed the photo to the Ebers, who posted it on the Sophi Strong Facebook page. Dad Zac Eber also posted the picture on Reddit, where it received a ton of buzz.

"That before picture was at her lowest," Bethany Eber said of her daughter. "She was still recovering from chemotherapy and from the surgery and it had been a really rough six months. She was down to probably 33 pounds in that photo and that tube is actually a feeding tube. The after picture, she doesn't have the tube in the nose, the central line had been removed and she's probably up by 10 pounds."

When asked what she thought of the photo, Sophi flexed her muscles and replied, "Look how big my muscles are now!" her mother said.

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