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22-year-old man celebrates being cancer free

An emotional ceremony to celebrate his beating cancer took place at The Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO — When cancer patients at The Children's Hospital of San Antonio finish their treatment and are finally cancer-free, they get to ring the celebration bell. It's an emotional moment for many, and that certainly turned out to be the case for one young man on Friday.

Marc Diaz, 22, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016. But on this day – alongside friends, family and hospital staff – he finally got the moment he was waiting for.

"Ring the bell three times well. It's a toll to clearly say, 'My treatment is done,'" Diaz read aloud at the end of this treatment journey. "'This course is run, and now I'm on my way.'" 

From there he rang the bell three times, tears of happiness forming in his eyes. 

"It just kind of came out of nowhere," Diaz said afterward, referring to the disease. "I mean, my dad passed away from leukemia, but we never thought it would come up again."

But it did, and Diaz said it was hard to cope with in the beginning, especially after losing his father to the disease in 2004. 

"It was something that I never thought would happen to me, but it did," he said. "And it was just very hard for me to be positive and think that I was going to be OK because of what I've been through in my past."

At some point during his treatment, his attitude did a 180. 

"I remember one night telling myself I'm going to sleep and I said I couldn't do this to my family again and I couldn't leave them behind and have them lose someone else."

On Friday, he wasn't just ringing the bell for himself. 

"I'm ringing it for my dad as well," he said, "because I know he would be so proud that I'm here and I just know that it was something he wishes he could've done. So I'm doing it for me and for him as well."

Now that he's cancer-free, Diaz says he plans to help other cancer patients through his new YouTube channel and to give back to help those who helped him. 

"I'm going to try and say my story at events and stuff like that and just help out and raise money for the leukemia and lymphoma society to give back to the patients as well."

"Never ever give up," Diaz added, "and have faith in yourself and be as positive and strong as you can be." 

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