Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Earlier this month, 39 troopers graduated to become the newest member's of South Carolina's Highway Patrol.
But one rookie had to not only deal with the rigors of training, but also a completely different, and unknown obstacle: cancer.
What he wanted to be when he grew up was never a question for Spencer Nieto
"He's wanted to be a cop for a long time and he's always wanted to help people," says his mother, Gail Lemmon.
Four days after completing training from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, 22 year old Nieto's world was turned upside down.
""I had really bad shoulder pain and I went to the doctor and she said on an x-ray my lymph nodes
were lighting up and she was fearing the worst and I needed to go see a specialist," he said. "That's the real day I found out that I did have cancer."
Battling with lymphoma along with basic training, one thing kept him going..
"The will to want it," he said. "I've had and of course everyone has had ups and downs in their lives. I was on a huge uphill being hired by the Highway Patrol in the first place ,and there was nothing in this world that was going to stop me from getting it."
Spencer's mom Gail has done her best to urge her youngest son to not allow cancer to get in the way of his dream.
"I was very encouraging for him to continue doing what he needed to do and just pushed him to keep going," she say. "It's been rough and he has a lot of bad days. You know, why is this happening to me but he continued to push through because he was very excited to get his patrol car."
Now officially a trooper, Nieto is undergoing chemotherapy, and plans to be patrolling the highways within the next six months, but he has one thing left to do.
"in these next six months I hope they fly by, I plan on kicking cancer's butt & hit the road."
Trooper Nieto and his family says they are excited to get through this and to see Spencer out on patrol.