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'We're living a miracle' | NC teen who beat cancer three times graduates high school

Johnny Van Kemp will study business at High Point University.

SUMMERFIELD, N.C. — After beating cancer three times over seven years as a child, a Guilford County teenager is ready to mark a new milestone.

Johnny Van Kemp is three years cancer-free and set to graduate high school Saturday.

"I think I'm ready," Johnny Van Kemp said. "I'm a little nervous."

The Northern Guilford High School senior plans to attend High Point University in the fall.

"I'm going to have tissues ready," his mom, Sharon Van Kemp, said. "We are excited for this new chapter because he's never had a true childhood."

WFMY News 2 began covering Johnny's fight with cancer in 2012 when he was 8 years old. After his Leukemia diagnosis, there was an outpouring of support for the "Iron Man of Summerfield." 

We were there for the highs, like when he went into remission for the first time in 2015.

There were also lows. His cancer came back twice

Johnny's parents relied on their faith, praying their son would get better.

"With each relapse, the ability to heal our son with traditional therapies got harder and harder," Johnny's father, John Van Kemp, said.

In 2019, his family sought a groundbreaking therapy in Pennsylvania. After seven weeks, he returned home to friends and family greeting him outside the home.

Three years later, he remains in remission.

"I am pretty much completely healthy," Johnny said. "I go in for a monthly visit check-up."

Since remission, he's gone to prom, taken up golfing, and decided to pursue a business degree at High Point University.

His parents said he made the decision to stay close to home on his own. Returning to normal life was hard for the family after so many years spent in the hospital.

"I wish we hadn't had to go through it, but every day, we wake up and we feel like we've won the lottery or it's Christmas all over. We're living a miracle," John said.

It's a miracle they feel was brought about by the love and prayers they received for all those years. Johnny said no matter what comes next, he wants to find ways to pay that love back.

"I can never thank them enough and I just want to pay it forward because it just meant the world to me," Johnny said.

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