Teen Alex Hunter Loses Teeth To Cancer, Insurance Company Won't Pay — But Strangers Do

Alex Hunter, a 16-year-old from Delano, California, got his first cancer diagnosis when he was 4 years old. He survived and beat the disease -- only to be hit with another form of cancer when he was 13. Alex beat that one, too. But as tough as this teenager obviously is, the aggressive treatments took their toll. One of the after-effects of the cancer treatments included losing his teeth.

"I had my teeth removed because they're all loose and, actually, when they fall out new teeth won't grow in," Alex told a local ABC News station.

While his family's insurance company paid to have the old, dead teeth removed, Alex would like a set of dentures so he can lead a relatively normal life. But that's where the insurance company drew the line.

"They said it wasn't a medical issue and of course it's from a medical issue," said his grandmother, Roberta. The new teeth would cost about $11,000.

Now it turns out that the kindness of strangers has provided what an insurance company refused. Alex and his family started an online campaign on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.

The family set a funding goal of the $11,000 needed for the artificial teeth. This week, just a day after starting the online funding effort, they had raised nearly $16,000.

Alex Hunter GoFundMe

At the age of 4, Alex was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that affects the body's connective tissues. At 13 he found he had a form of thyroid cancer. But through it all, the teen has maintained a generous and upbeat outlook on life.

Alex is an Honor Roll student and takes advanced placement classes, but he wants to go to to college and major in psychology then use his skills as a counselor "so I can help others the way I do at school."

His family gives one example of his selflessness. When he had a friend who recently graduated but couldn't afford to purchase a yearbook, Alex made a yearbook himself, complete with pictures -- and took it around to be signed by all of their friends and teachers.

"There were a lot of tears that day," Alex recalled, talking to NBC Channel 5 News.

For now, though, this young man is just happy to be getting new teeth.

"So far I'm just waiting for my dentures," said Alex Hunter. "But in the future I'm just going to keep on living."