The chemotherapy turned out to be even worse than they feared and Daniel was violently ill for several days.
"I was horrified," Lisa said. "I wasn't strong. I was calling my mom, my husband, my best friend just in complete disbelief of how sick the kids actually become. I know it's necessary in order for him to get better. So it's just, put the mom hat on and OK, this has to be done, there isn't a choice. ... Let's just plow forward and get it over with."
In June 2008, after three months of chemo, Daniel's treatment came to an end. It had been seven months since his cancer was diagnosed, and Daniel was feeling weak but proud.
"I did it!" he exclaimed. "I feel so lightheaded right now, I'd trip over my own legs. I'm drugged!"
St. Jude: 'The Best Place'
The following month, after regaining some of his strength, Daniel headed home. Waiting for him at the airport was his grandmother and a group of family friends.
"Today is very special. ... We can't believe this day has come," said his grandmother Beverly Centers at the time.
"Words cannot explain how I feel," Daniel said when he got off the plane. "I am so happy and excited." His journey through that year, through cancer, had been a long one, but four months after his homecoming Daniel was back at school. Although the cancer treatment slowed his ability to process information slightly, Daniel remained a straight-A student and every day he is getting stronger.
"It's fun running around again. I've gotten my strength back!" he said. "I don't have the stamina I used to, but I am trying to get my stamina back."
Almost a year to the day since his ordeal started, on Nov. 4, 2008, Daniel turned 13 years old -- that alone was a cause for celebration.
"He wasn't even expected to be here for his 13th birthday, and he's already had his 13th birthday and having his party tonight," Lisa said at the time.
Now, five and a half years later, Daniel is 17, and his doctors say he is cancer-free, attributing the success to his rigorous treatment. The results from the research trials that he participated in have already propelled new protocols that will benefit future patients. Daniel still goes back to St. Jude for check-ups every six months and will continue to do so until age 21.
The fact that he is healthy and has not lost his humor or sweetness from all that has happened is a tribute not only to him but to those who cared for him: his family and his team at St. Jude, which never lost sight of the boy by only seeing the disease.
"I still find it a happy place," said Daniel reflecting back. "I feel like St. Jude made it so great for me, as well as my doctors, that I want to go back into the medical field and help other people like I was helped."
This fall, Daniel will be attending Sienna College, majoring in biology, and through a special program, he has already been accepted to medical school.
"If you look back five years ago, it didn't seem like this night was going to happen," said his mother Lisa. "It shows that there's hope out there and for other people not to give up. and you can make the best even out of a really tough situation."
For a boy that was given less than a year to live after his initial diagnosis, Daniel has done just that.