Nathan and His Team of Medical Superheroes Work to Defeat Cancer and a Host of Scary Complications

Though he may not share all of Super Mario’s jumping powers, Nathan Herber is known as Mario throughout the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Oncology at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. And like Super Mario, Nathan is nothing short of extraordinary.

“He is my little rainbow and spreads smiles and cheer. He’s a fighter, and he’s so resilient,” his mother, Becky, says of her 4-year-old son.

Nathan’s path to the Pediatric ICU began in September 2018, when a persistent, wheezy cough prompted his parents to request a same-day medical appointment for their son at Mayo Family Clinic Kasson in Kasson, Minnesota. When a doctor found an enlarged lymph node above Nathan’s collarbone, his father, Andy, a physician assistant at Mayo, requested that Nathan receive a chest X-ray. Three hours later, a doctor called the Herbers to tell them the X-ray revealed a large mass in Nathan’s chest.

“My wife and I were devastated. We held him all night crying,” Andy says. “It was the worst night of my life.”

Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, 4-year-old Nathan Herber’s health spiraled downward when he was overcome by life-threatening treatment complications. A team of pediatric specialists at Mayo Clinic came to Nathan’s aid. And in the end, they restored the boy’s health while putting his cancer in remission.