SAUGUS — Fifteen was a busy year for Zachary Cummings.
A year ago, the Saugus teenager, the town’s Person of the Year, was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma after he and his parents noticed a lump on his neck. While none of the 365 days of 2017 were easy for him, Cummings’ positive attitude never wavered.
He began a 2½-year treatment plan in February and travels to Boston for regular appointments at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital twice each week.
Despite playing in the St. Mary’s football program the year before as a freshman, Cummings was forced to sit on the sidelines last season and focus on his own battle. Even so, he was named an honorary captain in September, and, hand-in-hand with other captains, proudly led his team onto the field and took part in a coin flip in front of a large crowd at Manning Field.
“It helps me get out of bed every day, to be honest with you,” Cummings told The Item last fall. “It’s tough going in every week to get shots, but I think of these guys out here fighting for me and I carry on.”
In June, a police escort lit up Saugus Center with lights and sirens to bring Cummings to the station for a Cops for Kids with Cancer donation. His mom, Beth, said she was especially thankful for the gift after having had to quit her job at a law firm she worked at for 15 years to bring her son to and from his appointments.
Cummings stood up to address a crowded room full of men and women in blue and thank them for their support and generosity.
He was chosen to be the face of Dana-Farber’s Giving Tuesday campaign, a global day of giving celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, because despite being sick, he keeps a positive attitude and enjoys special activities and events organized by the clinic for patients as nice moments to escape from his cancer, said Colleen Brown, a spokeswoman for Dana-Farber.
“He’s very friendly in the clinic, and his personality is just, he’s always got a smile on his face,” said his mom.
When asked by The Item why he agreed to be a part of the campaign, Cummings said he wanted the hospital to conduct more research on the side effects and long-term effects of the drugs they are using to treat childhood cancer so that other kids don’t have to go through what he has been through.