Two young cancer survivors celebrate life, friendship & end of cancer treatment
POSTED: Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 4:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 4:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Addison Kleinhans and Bella Hicks get attention wherever they go.
But, on a night when they wear sashes saying "Boy of the Year" and "Girl of the Year," the cute little couple grabs a lot of glances and hearts.
Nine-year-old Addison and six-year-old Bella began their friendship in The Children's Hospital four years ago, under the most unfortunate circumstances.
They were both diagnosed with the same form of leukemia within days of each other.
"We both had the same amount of cancer in our bone marrow: 98 percent," said Addison, sitting in a tuxedo with his mother, Sarah Clarke Kleinhans, by his side.
"She gets it, doesn't she?" Sarah says to her son, asking about Bella, who finished chemotherapy a year ago.
Even though they had the same diagnosis, Addison had to continue chemo treatments a year longer. Boys typically do so in order to reduce the risk of testicular cancer later on in life.
But, in June of this year, Addison reached the milestone that he'd been waiting for: his final chemotherapy treatment. And, even though she didn't need to be there, little Bella wanted to be by his side because she knew what his presence meant to her, during her most difficult days.
"I couldn't do it without him," she said.
Their parents are in awe of their relationship. So much so, that they have dubbed the two "soul mates."
"Holding hands. They just do everything together," said Bella's mother Margaret Hicks.
Margaret and Sarah recall the two pushing each other down the hall in wheelchairs when one was too weak to walk and saying "I love you" to each other before undergoing painful spinal taps.
"In a spinal tap, before he would fall asleep, Bella would be standing there with her face right to his face, saying 'I love you! I'll be there when you wake up. Think of me,'" said Margaret. "And he would go to sleep, and when he woke up, she'd come tearing down the hall."
The two raced down the hall on Big Wheels, right after Addison's last cancer treatment. They are happy, now, to celebrate their lives cancer-free.
"I do not have time for cancer," said Addison, who often spends his time talking to groups across the country.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Colorado was so impressed by both of their work, that they named the two Boy of the Year and Girl of the Year.
While big, fancy galas are nice, Addison and Bella looked forward to other celebratory plans.
"We're planning an end of chemo sleepover party," he said, excitedly.
Bella says the two will be friends "forever." Addison agrees.
One can't help but wonder if that means they'll be together a decade from now. Perhaps the will go to prom together?
"Well, I'm homeschooled," said Addison. "So it would have to be an online prom," he says with a smile beyond his years.
The two are both grateful for the friendship they've shared so far, even if it involved fighting cancer.
"If I didn't meet Bella on my cancer journey," said Addison. "It would have been a totally different experience."
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