Family of boy living with Treacher Collins has a devastating setback: Part 5

In the midst of her son Nathaniel's grueling surgical process, Magda Newman learns that she has an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
3:00 | 11/18/17

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Transcript for Family of boy living with Treacher Collins has a devastating setback: Part 5
Reporter: After a lifetime of surgeries today 12 year-old Nathaniel Newman is heading back into the operating room. This time it's different. For the next 12 hours surgeons will work to rearrange the bones in Nathaniel's face. Anchoring them in place with a metal halo attached to his head for the next three months, until those bones can finally settle into their new position. At that point doctors will finally remove Nathaniel's trach and he'll be able to do things he's never done before. As Dr. Hopper heads into the operating room Magda and Russ are left to wait and worry. It never gets easier. Putting your son on a metal table, surrounded by things that are gonna, you know, cut him open. It's agonizing. You know, it's just. We're just sit and wait, you know. We just sit. You just sit. What else can you do? Reporter: As the hours pass the tension mounts. So my heart is beating faster and faster. Russel, what time is it? It's 6:40 already? So we're on ten plus hours now. I'm going to go to the house phone. Hi Alison, it's russel Newman, Nathaniel Newman's father? We just got a page? Okay. You got it. Yup. Thanks, Genevieve. So he's finishing up. Everything went fantastic. Yeah. No problems at all. How are you smiling? Uh, I don't know, it's a lot of energy. He did great. Everything went perfectly smooth. No problems whatsoever. It's going to be a shock, though, when you see him. Because he's going to have metal everywhere. He's going to be very swollen. Much more swollen than when you've seen him from previous surgeries. Dr. Hopper, really. We owe you so much. It's a pleasure to work with you. You've just given us such a ray of hope. Reporter: Magda and Russ are able to briefly see Nathaniel. We're keeping him comfortable with pain meds. He just gave us a thumbs up right now. What?! He really gave you a thumbs up!? Can I hug you? Oh, sure. Oh my god he really did. His whole face is broken in pieces, right now. He knows that he will be asleep for two days. He said, 'mom, please do not leave my side. I want to know that you're there.' Reporter: When Nathaniel wakes up his jaw is wired shut to that metal halo. The family leaves the hospital but remains in Seattle so doctors can monitor Nathaniel's progress. But after just a few days there is crushing medical news. This time not for Nathaniel. It is for Magda who has come down with a nagging cough. I started coughing and -- thinking. I probably have some type of -- yeah, walking pneumonia. So I just went to emergency room. Reporter: The doctors quickly order a routine cat scan and then. The doctor says, "Well, it's cancer." I'm like, "That's-- that can't be possible." Reporter: But it is Magda is diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-hodgkin's lymphoma. I was angry. I couldn't believe it. I just -- it was just wrong timing. Reporter: A caretaker turned patient herself she begins a series of grueling chemo-therapy treatments eventually losing her hair but never her sense of purpose. I had two choices. To sit and mope and think, "Oh, my god, poor me, or just, get help, get healthy and take care of Nathaniel." Party all the time, right in the hospital, right now. Down, down, up, up. Reporter: Nothing it seems can stop Magda. People would look at everything that you, as a family, have been through and would say why is so much being asked of this one family? I've asked myself that question. I've asked god that question. And you know what, you can focus on the negative and be negative. Is it going to change? No. You have a choice to look at the positive. Reporter: It is an outlook Magda has passed on to Nathaniel who while in that metal halo was unable to speak or eat but remarkably is able to dance. He loves to dance. Now we can check in. Reporter: After three months Nathaniel is back at the hospital doctors are ready to remove that halo. I'll see you in there, okay, buddy? Okay. It's going to be all good, Nathaniel, okay? I'll see you when you wake up. We'll do this. Watch your head, duck. Give me a kiss. Reporter: With Nathaniel in surgery Magda heads home to rest and the crushing emotional weight of all that they have been through suddenly hits Russ. It's been a really long four months. It's been a really long twelve years. It's so, I'm so tired. I want it to be over. Reporter: When Nathaniel comes out of surgery he is halo-free but there will be five more months of evaluations and tests before doctors are ready to do something the newmans have waited a lifetime to do remove Nathaniel's trach. Alright, you ready? This is a big day in your life. That's it, dude. Okay so this is how you get rid of a trach after thirteen years. Here it goes. Reporter: Finally for the first time ever breathing on his own and Nathaniel is able to do something most 12 year-olds wouldn't think twice about jump in the pool and go for a swim. You did it. Reporter: And the newmans have another reason to celebrate after five months of chemo therapy doctors tell Magda her cancer is gone. It is a year filled with milestones. Happy birthday natony. Finally you are teenager and your trache is out. ??? Happy birthday to you ??? Nathaniel celebrated his 13th birthday, on his birthday, Russ, you wrote him an amazing message. You, my little wonder boy, you show me every day that my strength pales in comparison to what you possess in that enormous heart of yours. Because of you, I, we and our family have the strength to endure all life throws at us. I have a 13-year-old boy that's tackled more challenges than most 100-year-old men would ever dream of. What was it like to read that letter from your dad? I was happy. Yeah? Did you know that he thinks that you're that strong? Yeah. Yeah? Do you think he's right? Yeah. I don't know, actually. You don't know, actually? Yeah. I think he's right. I think he's, like-- You think he's right. 100% right. Reporter: Russ posted his letter on Facebook and attached that song you might call the Newman family anthem. You're still playing, beautiful? I play -- Yeah. I play it all the time.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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