Online Originals: Greene Co. student back at school after brain cancer treatment

SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) Eighth-grader Ben Lozano is back at school after 3 1/2 months of undergoing cancer treatment.

Greene Central High School on Monday welcomed him back with cheers, balloons and a huge poster. Lozano was diagnosed with brain cancer back in October and now, he said he is just happy to be back at school.

Lozano was born with Polycystic Kidney Disease and diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at age 4. Lozano’s mother said the health diagnosis is terminal.

Muscular Dystrophy has a lifespan of 19 to 25 years. That means Ben is permanently in a motorized wheelchair. But that wheelchair doesn’t stop him at all. Patrick Greene, Principal at Greene Central High School, said Lozano comes across quiet until you get to know him. But one thing Ben loves and they love to joke about is how fast he drives and zooms down the halls in his wheelchair.

9OYS first met Lozano and his mom, Valerie, back in December, shortly after his official diagnosis. Valerie Lozano took him to the hospital Halloween night after Ben had been having bad headaches.

On Nov. 2, he underwent surgery to remove an apple-sized tumor from the back of his brain. Within a matter of 36 hours, their whole life changed.

After that, it was just appointments after appointments after appointments after appointments. It felt like it became a new normal because it was every single day.

Valerie Lozano, Ben’s mom

At first, doctors misdiagnosed Ben with Stage Four Glioblastoma, a terminal and aggressive form of cancer. But Ben’s mom continued to push for more answers. A month later, they were given the proper diagnosis of Stage Three Anaplastic Ependymoma, a non-terminal diagnosis.

On Feb. 1, Ben completed his round of treatments and got to ring the infamous bell.

Meredith Wilkes is a the Special Population Coordinator for the CT Department and has worked with Ben since he started at Greene Central High School. She tells me since his diagnosis, she has visited him at home, sent texts, and called every day to check in with him and his mom.

She said during those whole three months, there was one big thing on Ben’s mind.

“He was always asking or saying ‘I’m ready to come back to school, I’m ready to come back to school’,” Valerie Lozano said.

Ben has an appointment in March to determine if he is officially in the clear. Valerie said these kinds of tumors have a tendency to come back, so Ben will get regular scans to keep tabs on him.

For now, Ben is enjoying being back with his classmates, and zooming around the hallways.