By Steve Patterson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –The Philadelphia Art Museum’s iconic steps have special significance for one local boy in his battle against cancer. The steps are a Philadelphia tourism summit, the last bane for art-goers and another obstacle for runners.READ MORE: SEPTA Union Unanimously Approves Strike If Deal Isn't Reached
But for 13-year-old Sean Bartolucci, these 72 steps represent a year-and-a-half of struggle to persevere through a battle with cancer. And for him, standing above them Sunday means everything.
“You got your life on the line with this,” said Bartolucci. “You’ve got everything to lose, that’s why you can’t just fold.”
It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, this precocious life-of-the-party teenager was staring death in the face.
“Five rounds of chemo, surgery, I think four more rounds of chemo, stem cell transplant,” said his mom, Michelle, revisiting the 18-month blur while her son underwent treatment.READ MORE: Double Shooting In Eastwick Kills 25-Year-Old Man, Wounds Pregnant Woman: Police
She remembers when the then 11-year-old Sean came down with a stomachache that doctors identified as stage 3 Neuroblastoma — the same moment when Sean’s childhood was put on hold.
“At first, he was ticked off,” Mom Michelle said. “Then he just said ‘Alright let’s go, I’ll do what I got to do to save my life. ‘Cause I want to live.'”
And for 18 months at Children’s Hospital, throughout chemo, isolation and radiation on lost birthdays and holidays, that was the motto and this was the goal. Sunday was not a fundraiser or a dedication — just a celebration. With the cancer now in remission, these 72-steps mean Sean can be a kid again, with the power to inspire others.
“With this, you find out who you actually are,” said Sean. “Whether you fight or you fly.”MORE NEWS: 'I Want To Go To Class': Philadelphia Students, Parents On Edge As Possible SEPTA Strike Could Force Virtual Learning
After a year and half battle with cancer featuring 20 rounds of radiation, the 13 year old says it ends right here, the way he wanted: with a celebration.