The family of a 16-year-old boy from Florida who initially thought he had the flu received devastating news when they recently. Now, Hunter Brady's classmates are bullying him and his friends because of the diagnosis, his mom Cheryl says.
Around New Year's, Hunter fell ill with a fever, cough, and some aches and pains. His mom first brought him to a clinic where doctors "didn't run any tests and said it was likely a virus," according to a YouCaring page set up by his family. When his symptoms continued to progress, doctors thought Hunter was having an allergic reaction to the medication and told the family not to worry and just "let the virus run its course."
Hunter then saw his pediatrician, who ordered a CT scan. That's when the family got the devastating news: the boy not only had a collapsed lung containing a large amount of fluid, but he also had severely swollen lymph nodes, and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma -- a cancer of immune system cells.
Hunter has since undergone three rounds of chemotherapy and is now back home.
In a Facebook post, Cheryl wrote, "We must be careful with him and keep him in a 'bubble'" to avoid infections.
Since becoming ill, Hunter has faced bullying from classmates, his family says.
"The bullies are telling Hunter's friends that he deserves cancer and they hope that he dies," Cheryl told CBS News. "They are also tormenting his friends."
Cheryl said the family is saddened by this, but that Hunter stands strong against the bullies.
"I know I don't deserve it, and I'm going to live. I'm too strong," Hunter told CBS affiliate WTSP.
His mother said she wishes the bullies knew him better, "because if they knew how strong and inspiring for everyone, I think they would look at it differently."
Cheryl said she has contacted her son's guidance counselor, but has been told nothing can be done because they haven't found proof of what happened.