Hunter Brady thought he had the flu.

He had seen a doctor who prescribed an antibiotic and sent him home.

When the 16-year-old Safety Harbor boy developed a rash over the holiday weekend, the doctor told his mom, Cheryl, to stop the antibiotic because it was probably a bad reaction. Cheryl said she wasn't comfortable doing that, so the doctor suggested taking him to the East Countryside Hospital emergency room.

She says she thanks God they took him.

"They said he wouldn't have made it if they hadn't taken him when they did," said Cheryl.

His right lung had already collapsed and his left lung was only at 30 percent because they were surrounded by fluid. The word came back. It was Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"He didn't even let on he was that sick. We had no idea," his mom said.

When the news came back, Hunter decided to stay positive.

"I took a picture of me smiling and posted it on Facebook," he said.

He credits the support he's getting to keeping his spirits up, and he says he's surprised at the attention his story has gotten.

"It's too much," he said. "I like it."

He had a port installed for getting his medication, and he carries a heart monitor around.

His mother Cheryl calls the experience "overwhelming."

She says she and her husband have been open with him about the seriousness of his illness, "but we've also told him how many people have had positive outcomes from Hodgkin's lymphoma."

She is upset doctors diagnosed him with the flu without running any tests.

"They sent antibiotics, said let it run its course and sent him home," she said.

Hunter is undergoing chemotherapy, and when that is done he will undergo radiation therapy.

Hunter has faced bullying at school since he got sick, but he said he doesn't care what they say. "I know I don't deserve it, and I'm going to live. I'm too strong."

His mother said she wishes the bullies knew him better, "because if they knew how strong and inspiring for everyone, I think they would look at it differently."

She said she has contacted school officials about the bullying, but has been told nothing can be done because they haven't found proof it happened.

Hunter says he wants to be a pastor, and this experience has helped strengthen his faith, "so then I want to pass it on."

Cheryl called the community's response "a blessing. Our faith in humanity has been restored."

She says she has not only gotten messages of support from other parts of the U.S., but from other countries as well.

According to a YouCaring page that has been set up to help pay for medical expenses, Hunter has six siblings. The page has raised more than $12,000 as of Thursday night.

Follow WFMY News 2 on Facebook and Twitter

► Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WFMY News 2 App now