When Lindokuhle Ntshaba was wheeled out of his permanent Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital ward he thought he was going for a sonar.
Instead he was taken to another ward where he was surprised by his schoolmates, who threw a 17th birthday party for him.
Lindokuhle, 17, has been in hospital since August last year after he was diagnosed with a malignant tumour.
His mother Jabu Ntshaba and 21-year-old sister Mpumi spend long hours at the hospital.
The Grade 11 pupil has not been to school since early this year when his condition got worse.
An excited Lindokuhle said: "I feel great. I am happy that my friends are supporting me. This shows that they have not forgotten me though I don't go to school any more."
The boy, who has ambitions to become a sound engineer, is in constant pain and has to be given morphine.
"I am obsessed with music. My friends call me Barry White or L'vovo," he said.
Lindokuhle's mother said her son became ill four years ago when he developed a pimple on the right side of his head.
"The pimple grew and I took him to the clinic but we were referred to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, where they told us that they couldn't see what was wrong.
"I took him to a specialist who referred us to Charlotte Maxeke for further tests. He had two tests done before being diagnosed with the cancer.
"It breaks my heart because doctors say they cannot do anything for him. He is tired all the time and prefers to sleep."
Bongelani Nene has been friends with Ntshaba since Grade 4.
"When he started being sick I tried to be with him all the time so that he would not feel abandoned by his friends," Nene said. "School is not the same without him.