BILLINGS — Thursday was a big day at the Billings Clinic Pediatric Unit as 3-year-old Zeke Acheson rang the bell to signify he is officially cancer free.
"The bell-ringing celebrations have always been one of my favorite things about my job," said Clinic Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Breanna Breeding. "There’s a lot of hard days, but this really makes it all worth it."
It’s the end of a two-and-a-half-year journey for Acheson. Dozens of family and friends joined in singing the 'Last Day of Chemo' song. After ringing the bell, Zeke seemed like he wanted to say, ‘What’s the big deal?’ which was no surprise for this trooper.
"That’s his life, right?" said mom Marissa Acheson. "He knows nothing else."
"Most of our kids that are younger like Zeke, they just want to be kids and want to play," Breeding added. "So they tend to do a lot better during treatment."
One thing that always seems to help: a toy. So Zeke’s family organized a toy drive and dropped off over 200 today.
"While Zeke was in the clinic, I know the impact (toys) made on him and how much happier it made him," Marissa said. "And the financial help was huge for us."
"They're going through things no kid should have to go through," Breeding said. "So getting a prize or a toy after a poke or a procedure makes a big difference for them."
The toys will go to kids throughout the pediatric center. The family foundation, called Zekey’s Friends, wants to hold at least one drive a year and has already received donations to help 11 families with gas and grocery cards. If you'd like to donate, it doesn't take much.
"They are usually little, small toys, but that’s enough to put a big smile on a kid’s face," Breeding said.
And what could make you smile bigger than being cancer free.