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For one child, cancer recovery ends with parade

Young cancer survivor headed to Rose Parade 01:34

In 2004, Kari Penner was a 22-year-old volunteer at an orphanage in Romania when she met Adi, her now-adopted son. At the time he was only a toddler and was gravely ill, battling stage 4 neuroblastoma, one of the most common pediatric cancers of the central nervous system. It accounts for 7 percent of all cancers in children.

At the time, Penner worried the boy wouldn't get the right treatment. "The medical care there just isn't the same, and there were a couple of other kids that were diagnosed with neuroblastoma in Romania and they didn't make it," she told CBS News.

Adi went into remission after chemotherapy. Penner heard about a new drug under development that could make his cancer less aggressive. It wasn't available in Romania, so she flew with Adi to see Dr. Clarke Anderson, a pediatric oncologist at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.

"With chemotherapy alone, his survival at that time was less than 20 percent," Anderson told CBS News.

The doctor gave Penner a prescription for the medication. She and Adi then flew back to Romania, where she started the adoption process with the hope of bringing Adi back to the U.S. so he could continue his treatments at the hospital.

His doctors now say Adi's chance of relapse is close to zero percent.

Adi, now 11 years old, has been cancer-free for years and is looking ahead to the future. "I want to pitch for the Dodgers," he told CBS News. He'll see the Rose Parade for the first time this year, when he rides on City of Hope's float with other families fighting cancer.

"We were given very little hope that he would survive but he's here today," said Penner. "There's hope even when it seems hopeless."

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