As Kaden’s mother would tell you, “Basketball runs through my son’s veins.”
A member of his middle school hoops team, Kaden has loved the sport for most of his childhood. His passion for the game, though, made his life even more difficult when he learned that he would have to stop playing altogether.
One day in science class, something out of the ordinary occurred: Kaden was seeing double. His mother took him to the eye doctor, who ordered an MRI. The results were clear: a brain tumor. Soon after, Kaden was diagnosed with germinoma – an extremely rare form of cancer that affects only a handful of Americans each year.
His family couldn’t believe it.
“You’re being told something that you wouldn’t think in your wildest dreams,” Kaden’s mom said. “You read about it. You see the commercials. But you never think that’s the journey you’ll be taking.”
That journey felt long and, at times, was very hard for Kaden. The 14-year-old loves school, and having to miss it for an extended period of time devastated him. His parents gave him some advice: “You can let this take you or you can take it. … You have a lot left to live for.”
The medical professionals gave him a 50/50 shot of surviving the cancer. As positive as the family tried to remain, though, Kaden’s mother was just trying to keep everything together.
“I had a child laying in the bed who was nervous, and an angry husband sitting in the corner,” she said. “We eventually all got on the same accord. But it was a shock at first.”
But, after two rounds of chemotherapy, something amazing happened: the doctors couldn’t find the cancer. It was gone – and it hasn’t come back since.
So how would Kaden celebrate beating cancer? A die-hard fan of the Indiana Pacers, he didn’t need much time to decide on his wish – a meeting with NBA superstar forward Paul George.
The experience was everything Kaden wanted it to be and more. When he first encountered George, tears began flowing from his eyes.
“You’re Paul George!” Kaden said.
George, who was visibly emotional about meeting Kaden, posted a photo of the two to his Instagram account – which garnered nearly 70,000 favorites from his fans.
Kaden found a connection with George in the fact that the two-time All Star is also looking to make a return to the game he loves. George is currently recovering from a leg injury, and hasn’t competed since last season.
Kaden, whose mom said he was treated “like an owner” at the Pacers’ facilities, received a photo op with the team, an authentic jersey and a signed pair of shoes from George. Kaden and his father even got the chance to shoot around on the court!
After everything Kaden had been through, this was a moment he had been waiting for – one that he so very much deserved.
“All the things my child had to endure just to fight to live, to have this at the end waiting for him was so great,” Kaden’s mother said.
Kaden’s recovery is ongoing, as he still hasn’t returned to his basketball team yet. His coach, though, told him to keep his head up.
“There’s always going to be basketball,” he said. “You only have one life.”
Although his trip back to the court has been delayed, Kaden is back in school – joining many of his friends who visited and comforted him throughout his entire journey of battling cancer.
As for his wish experience itself, Kaden’s mother said it’s a moment her family will cherish forever.
“To see my child’s eyes light up … it was a moment I can’t describe, but it’s a moment I won’t forget,” she said.