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PRICELESS: Teen battles back from brain cancer to live life without limits, help others

Nick Price is a young man who, faced with his own mortality in the form of brain cancer, refused to back down. Instead it was game on. Now the Academic Magnet junior is fully committed to helping others (Dave MacQueen/WCIV)

There's something to be said for mind over matter, even when that matter can kill you.

Nick Price is a young man who, faced with his own mortality, refused to back down. Instead it was game on.

Now the Academic Magnet junior is fully committed to helping others, and that’s one reason why our April Jefferson Award winner is simply priceless.

The goal was simple: survive.

"There's not much sugar coating you can do for something that huge," said Nick.

The diagnosis was life changing.

"He said, Nick you have cancer," Nick said.

The prognosis was fatal in 5 years.

"It would continue to grow until it took him," said Nick's mother, Marie Price.

The first sign of trouble came in December of 2014. Nick's club team had just won a state championship.

"The team was dog piling and I turned around and Nick s laying out on the field and he collapsed," said Marie, choking back tears.

A month later, an MRI revealed a brain tumor, pontine glioma. His father delivered the news.

"He said, Nick I want you to look at the sky. The sky is a reminder of how great things can be," said Russ Price.

The kid who grew up playing soccer turned into a man overnight.

"The next day he came to me and said, I know why it's me, Mom, because I'm strong, because I can beat this and I will turn around and help other people beat it," Marie said.

"I knew right then that it just clicked. I got this, I don't see it ever taking me over. I control my body and that's final," Nick said.

Nick's fate -- his future -- was in the hands of a Phoenix, Arizona neurologist. The only surgeon in the country contacted by the Price's, confident enough to take the case.

"I can get this tumor, and he will be whole," the surgeon told Marie.

A promise made and a promise kept. In June 2015, six months after his diagnosis, Nick underwent brain surgery.

"He was sitting in a wheelchair in ICU, he was so swollen," Marie said.

"My brain was pressing along the walls of my skulls. I heard my mom say," Nick said.

"Buddy they got it all. You don't have a tumor anymore -- he started bawling crying," Marie said.

"The first time I felt my body was me crying, because hearing those words,” Nick said. “It wasn't conscious. It was totally subconscious, thinking ‘We did it. They did it.’”

The road to recovery began in the hospital hallway, dribbling and passing a soccer ball with his dad.

"As soon as I started dribbling again and I passed the ball to my dad and he passed it back, to me I knew it physically right then and there," Nick said.

He knew he was whole, physically, mentally and spiritually. It was a game changer.

"For me being whole is taking the best out of every situation you got and taking nothing for granted," Nick said. “It is about living life to the fullest, being a whole person.”

Inside his James Island bedroom, there are signs of life without limits. As his story gained traction. Signed jerseys were sent from some of the games greats. It was time to give back, and he wasn't about to go at it feet first.

Nick and his family created the Nick Price Foundation. The foundation provides financial support to people battling brain tumors.

"It's just a huge web that keeps growing and growing and growing and every time I help someone a new chain is started," Nick said.

As for emotional support, Nick spends his weekends with fellow cancer patients.

"There is social life, social media, video games and sports but there's something truly special to connect with someone who's going through what you've gone through and you can't replace it with anything,” Nick said. “You can't describe it as fun, you can't describe it as human. It’s beyond that."

The final words from Nick's surgeon as he wheeled him into the operating room: “no luck needed.” It’s now tattooed on Nick's arm, linked by the brain tumor ribbon.

"For me it's being forever marked for victory,” Nick said. “I want to be involved with it for the rest of my life and help other people going through this because I know I can. That's what God wants me to do. That's why he gave me this chance."

He's already making the most of it and the match, just started.

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