TAMPA, Florida. – It’s the moment 12-year-old Colton King has been waiting for: ringing the cancer-free bell at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando.
He is now officially cancer-free after he and his family learned that the bone marrow transplant – with his 17-year-old sister Kaylee, who turned out to be the perfect match donor – worked.
“They said he’s cancer free. There’s no sign of leukemia and I started crying like I couldn’t even speak,” said Colton’s mother, Stacy King.
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Ringing the Bell is a moment that wouldn’t be possible without her sister Kaylee.
“It became a huge relief and so much stress was taken away because the transplant took so long,” Kaylee said.
Colton was a star on the baseball field who celebrated his 12th birthday in the batting cages in July, only to find out the same day that he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and would need a bone marrow transplant. Months later, Kaylee discovered that she was the perfect donor.
In January, the brothers underwent surgery at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando, but only this week did they discover that it worked. As a result, Colton was released from the hospital and now he and his mother are living in Ronald McDonald’s house next door.
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“I said ‘Buddy, you don’t have leukemia anymore, like your cells are 100% Kaylee’s, and you’re cancer free,’ and he just kind of exploded at that. You could see the relief in his eyes and on his face and he broke into a big smile,” King said.
His story touched thousands of people on social media and even caught the attention of the Tampa Bay Rays, who sent him personalized T-shirts with his and his sister’s names on them, along with an autographed bat and baseball.
“We have an incredible community of people supporting him and praying for him and people who are really rooting for him and will walk alongside him and alongside our entire family, so that makes a huge difference,” King said.
Over the next year, Colton will be on the mend and working to strengthen his immune system so he can return to face-to-face school next year. Going forward he has 3 more checkups one in 30 days, one in 60 days and one in a year to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back.
Until then, King says they’re celebrating the moment in hopes that the rest of the family will be reunited with him later this week.