San Antonio teen thriving, helping other sick children while battling rare cancer

Noah Adams was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at 17

In July, Adams was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that affects bones or soft tissue surrounding the bones.

SAN ANTONIONoah Adams is determined, hilarious and selfless.

The 17-year-old is also fighting cancer.

In July, Adams was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that affects bones or soft tissue surrounding the bones.

He remembers the day his doctor gave him the news about his diagnosis.

“My heart dropped, and I was terrified, and I was anxious and all this. And then two seconds later, it just all went away. And I was like, ‘All right, well, let’s beat it,’” Adams said.

Adams started feeling a little off in late 2019.

“I’m almost certain it started when I stayed out too late and drove a little too long, around twelve hours,” he said.

In January, he felt like he pulled his hamstring during pole vaulting. He went months with the discomfort.

“But now I know it was a tumor that was just in the way that I agitated,” Adams said.

The Central Catholic High School senior has received several rounds of chemotherapy. In October, doctors performed a rotationplasty, a surgery used to remove the cancer but still preserve mobility by removing a portion of the leg and rotating the remaining portion 180 degrees. The procedure allows the ankle joint to function as a knee joint.

“Of course, it’s a backwards foot, and it’s funny to look at. But, with the prosthetic, I’ll be able to have no limits, and I’ll be able to work out. I’ll be able to run. I’ll be able to go on a hike if I want to,” Adams said as he shook his “little foot” as he’s named it.

The decision to become an amputee was an easy one for the 18-year-old, but it was a tough one for his mother to accept when she first saw him after the surgery.

“I broke down for a good five, 10 minutes, and that was hard because he’s always been healthy,” Debi Harper said.

As a mother, seeing her son deal with cancer has been difficult.

“I’m watching him hurt, and I’m watching him get the chemo, and I’m watching him go through his struggles. And I want to take all that away because that’s (what moms are) supposed to do, and I just can’t. I can’t do that,” Harper said.

There have been a few silver linings during Adams’ cancer journey. He and his mother have a stronger relationship, he’s taught her not to take everything so seriously and they’ve made new friendships.

“I think we hit over 1,000 people or something like that on the Facebook page. And a lot of them, I don’t know,” Harper said.

Harper created the dedicated Facebook page to keep family and friends updated on Adams’ progress.

This year, Adams has not only been focusing on beating cancer but also helping other sick children. He’s held several drives, including a toy drive for pediatric patients at University Health who will be spending Christmas in the hospital like him. More than 1,200 toys were collected.

“When you know how hard it is and how much they struggle, you just want to give them a reward and give back to them,” Adams said.

Adams plans to lead his senior class across the stage in May. He has also been accepted to the University of Pittsburgh, his top school of choice.

He wants to continue giving back to kids and young adults by becoming a child psychiatrist.

“All the work I did paid off. It’s like everything’s just falling into place,” he said.

His mother isn’t too thrilled about him leaving home, but she says she’s excited to see him tackle his dreams.

“I just can’t wait to see what he does because he is a huge inspiration to a lot of different people. He’s an inspiration to myself, to his dad, to everybody in the family,” Harper said.

About the Authors:

Brina is the Executive Producer of the NightBeat and KSAT Explains. She has been with KSAT since 2015. She is a Houston native and proud to call San Antonio home.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.