6-year-old celebrates completing cancer treatment at Cy-Hawk game

This week's Kid Captain Harper Stribe has seen insurmountable pain despite being 6 years old. This Saturday, with her cancer treated, she will walk on the field with the Hawkeyes.


Katina Zentz

Kid Captain Harper Stribe smiles for a portrait during Iowa football Kid's Day at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The 2018 Kid Captains met the Iowa football team and participated in a behind-the-scenes tour of Kinnick Stadium.

Charles Peckman, News Reporter


After she finished playing outside one day, Harper Stribe’s parents noticed swelling in her cheek. Once she visited a pediatrician and an ear, nose, and throat specialist, she was referred to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Pediatric oncologists determined Harper, now 6, had embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor that targets skeletal muscles. A year later, Harper’s treatment is complete, and she is the Kid Captain for this Saturday’s game against Iowa State.

Throughout 2017 and early this year, Harper underwent a 45-week protocol of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Because her tumor was so noticeable, it was caught before the cancerous cells could spread. Although the yearlong treatment process shrunk her tumor, Harper’s mother, Nicole Stribe, said the process was anything but easy.

“[Harper] was up on steroids for nausea,” she said. “Dance Marathon students and therapy dogs would come and play with her, and that helped calm her down a lot.”

Throughout Harper’s treatment, she said her daughter stayed strong, and Harper’s father, Nolan Stribe, echoed that.

“It’s a great platform to be a part of,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s an opportunity to reflect. There are a lot of families we’ve met who haven’t had great outcomes, so it’s a great support network as well.”

On the day of Harper’s last treatment, he received a phone call — Harper had been chosen for the 2018 Kid Captain lineup. Although the news was a surprise, Nicole Stribe said it was a very welcome one.

“My husband and I have been season-ticket holders for years, and we’ve always thought of [Kid Captain] as a cool program,” she said. “We never realized we’d be in this situation, that someday we’d be part of the Kid Captain program.”

Harper also has a connection to another 2018 Kid Captain, Gabe Graber — Nolan Stribe and Graber’s father, Darin Graber, were roommates at Buena Vista University. Although Nolan Stribe said it is unfortunate both of their children have been treated at the Stead Children’s Hospital, it is reassuring to see a familiar face. Outside of Gabe’s family, both Stribes said they have made many friends during the course of the year.

In addition to being the Kid Captain for the Iowa/Iowa State game, Harper also participated in Kid’s Day on Aug. 11. She said she got to meet the players and coaches, walk on the field, and take a tour of Kinnick Stadium.

“My favorite part about Kids Day was walking out on the field,” Harper said.

Harper also said she is a fan of No. 38, T.J. Hockenson.

“This whole experience has been amazing,” Nicole Stribe said. “My dad has been a Hawkeye fan for a long, long time, and meeting the coaches and players and getting to be a part of all of that — all of us were a ball of emotions that day.”

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