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‘I appreciate it so much’: Homecoming surprise for a man battling ultra-rare form of cancer

By Hannah Ferrera and Jeff Russo

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    KENMORE, New York (WKBW) — It was an emotional homecoming for Mike Shapiro of Kenmore on Tuesday.

“It’s been a really long seven months,” said Shapiro, who was back in his own driveway on Euclid Avenue for the first time since cancer surgery over the summer.

“The cancer I have is called Chordoma, it affected my spine, so it was crushing my vertebrae,” said Shapiro.

The tumor impacted Mike’s ability to walk. A stroke during rehab only complicated matters further.

“My right leg was pretty much dead, but I can move it more. I can stand. I just can’t walk,” said Shapiro.

After Shapiro posted on Facebook asking for recommendations on how to make his house wheelchair accessible, his group of lifelong friends decided to build a ramp so he could easily get into his front door.

They came together on Saturday to build the brand new ramp to make his home wheelchair accessible upon his return.

The group has been friends for over 50 years — growing up in Western New York and catching up a few times a year.

7 News reporter Hannah Ferrera was there as Mike’s childhood pals put their handiwork skills together on Saturday.

“One of the favorite things we did in the neighborhood when we were kids … we would get scrap out of the garbage and build forts,” Neil Boron, a friend, said. “This desire for building and creating things started back in the neighborhood.”

While the day was cold and dreary, it didn’t stop the hard work.

“There’s probably other things we could be doing, but nothing we’d rather be doing,” Boron said. “There’s a real warmth — our other family members are here, some of the other neighborhood people stopped by. In fact, there’s another guy in our neighborhood fighting cancer — he stopped by for a while.”

Mike got his first “in-person” look at the new ramp on Tuesday when he returned home.

“I have the best friends in the world,” said Shapiro.

“It’s just absolutely amazing,” added Lynn Purchase, Mike’s longtime girlfriend who tells 7 News the new ramp is a game changer.

“It’s huge because otherwise, we were going to probably just continue to do what we were doing. Me staying here, him staying somewhere else until we could find a place where we could be back together again,” said Purchase.

But on Tuesday, the long-time couple returned home together, with Lynn pushing Mike up the new ramp and into their home for the first time in months.

“I just want to thank Michael’s friends from the bottom of my heart for helping us get him home today,” said Purchase. “It’s been an incredibly long journey, and they’ve made it so much more simple for us to finally bring him home.”

“Honestly everyone that helped out with this, I appreciate it so much,” said Shapiro.

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