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STORIES OF HOPE

Stories of Hope: Zach

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Three-year-old Zach Floyd is a bundle of energy. Like many young boys, he loves playgrounds and trains.

No one would ever guess there were moments when a normal childhood for Zach didn’t seem possible.

“Zach’s great and he acts like nothing ever happened, and so many times it’s easy to forget that everything did happen with him,” said Zach's mother, Natalie Floyd.

READ MORE | 2016 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway

Zach was diagnosed at seven months old with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. We first introduced you to Zach and his family two years ago after he began treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Doctors at St. Jude told Andrew and Natalie Floyd it would be best for Zach to lose his eye to avoid chemotherapy and other forms of treatment.

Today he remains cancer free.

“St. Jude was just a huge blessing and godsend to us. They, most importantly, took Zach and treated him as if he was their own,” said Floyd.

Retinoblastoma primarily affects young children and if it’s found in one eye it could develop in the other. Zach still travels to St. Jude to be checked every 16 weeks.

“We will actually go back in May and they will check his good eye and make sure that nothing, no cancer is there. And they will do an MRI and make sure everything’s looking great and just kind of keep up with him from there.”

As Zach grows older, he’ll need fewer visits and they’ll be farther apart. When he reaches 5 to 6 years old, he should be considered out of the woods, but St. Jude will continue to track him as he grows older.

“He loves going, he begs to go all the time… In our off time he’s playing there because they have so many activities going on. And so then once or twice a year we do MRIs and do some extra therapies to make sure he’s growing and progressing the way that he should be, so that just kind of depends on the visit on what we have to do,” Floyd said.

Zach wears glasses to protect his good eye, but his limitation certainly doesn’t seem to slow him down.

“He thinks he’s just like any other kid and in our eyes, he is. Just having one eye doesn’t affect him,” said Floyd. “In my opinion he sees more with one eye than most people see with two eyes, because I think he does have to be more observant of those things. So he runs and climbs and plays just like every other child.”

The Floyds are grateful for the care and support they receive at St. Jude and the hospital’s mission to find a cure for cancer.

“Having been on the side where we never expected our child to be diagnosed with cancer, literally a parent’s worst nightmare, it’s a huge blessing to know that they are not only treating children, but they’re working to make sure it doesn’t happen to any other children.”

Families sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital never receive a bill for treatments, lodging or food so they can focus on their child’s health. The Floyds say support for the hospital is important and they’re thankful for anyone who gives to help children like Zach have a chance at living a full life.

“It’s a huge blessing, because at one point we never thought we would even get to this point. I never dreamed that he would be two and a half years cancer free at this point, because everything pointed to the fact that he should have cancer in his other eye by this point. And so just to know how far we’ve come, how far he’s come and nothing seems to slow him down, it’s just a huge blessing and it makes me very proud of him as a mother to know that he’s unstoppable.”

You can help support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the 2016 St. Jude Dream Home giveaway

In Tennessee, tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets by phone or at a Regions Bank location in Tennessee.

Each ticket costs $100. A limited number of tickets are available and the past two giveaways have sold out early.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It generates more than $290 million for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.

For more information about the giveaway, visit the Chattanooga Dream Home website.

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