LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A nickname can say a lot about a person. Take for instance Lee's Summit West student "Superman" Sam Smith, who has now defeated cancer in heroic fashion.
Swimming means everything to Smith and his Titan teammates, and it now returns to top priority, since doctors say Smith is in remission. His teammates nicknamed him "Superman Sam," since he's fought cancer twice over a three-year period that saw the 16-year-old undergo 24 chemotherapy sessions.
"It felt like it was going on forever and ever, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel," Smith said.
Sam says he kept swimming and praying, and his spirits were raised by two clear cancer scans since August. Hearing the tumors were gone from his lungs was energizing for this swim team superhero.
"When you're in there waiting for the doctors, everything is going through your mind," Smith said. "When it's good news, it's the best feeling in the world."
Superman Sam says he didn't defeat cancer on his own. During his illness, money was collected at many swim meets, and a lot of it came from teams the Titans swam against. Smith says it amounted to thousands of dollars that went toward paying for his treatments and lifting his spirits, too.
"It's incredible, the news he's gotten," Smith said. "It was such a rough time for his family and for him for so long. They just always had such a positive mindset."
"It wouldn't have matter if he had cancer or not," Garrett Spencer, Smith's teammate, said. "Anyone who joins our team, we're going to open arms and bring you in and treat you like our brother."
"Sometimes, I ask why, but I just keep my faith in God, and know there's a reason," Smith said.
Smith told FOX 4 News he's applied to compete as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Swim team. He expects to know more about his hopes of making the team soon.
Smith is even working at a grocery store in Lees Summit. He says he'll need regular checkups to ensure the cancer doesn't return. His next scan is scheduled for mid-February.