HICKORY, NC (WBTV) - "We need stories of hope. Let me introduce my son, Mitchell."
Mitchell Mathis is a junior at East Carolina University. His dad, Bo, is a Hickory police officer. His mom, Diane, is a paralegal.
When you look at the picture of Mitchell here with his two sisters, would you EVER guess Mitchell fought aggressive leukemia at the age of six?
In 2001, Mitchell was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) when a mass was found behind his left eye. Because it was such a rare spot, Mitchell needed chemo and cranial radiation.
At the time, he lived in Florida. Doctors there told his parents they were afraid to do cranial radiation for fear of learning disabilities.
"It's crazy," said Diane. "It's crazy we had to fight to get our son's brain radiated. Miami wouldn't do it. Duke University Hospital was our solution."
After Mitchell came here for treatments, his family fell so in love with North Carolina they moved.
"Mitchell wasn't supposed to make it," Diane says. "BUT HE DID. He is cancer-free! He has NO learning difficulties!"
It's a great story. We sometimes need great stories.
That's not to say it was an easy path.
"We almost lost him a few times. We were even given the heart-wrenching talk of 'We've done all we can do, it's now up to him'," Diane says. "I want to share Mitchell's story to tell everyone to always fight the fight. There is always hope."
Diane says Mitchell lost many friends to cancer, including his best pal at the age of 14. (That's them on the bottom left. The middle picture is Mitchell with his sister Kaleigh, now a high school senior. The top right photo is special. It's when Mitchell met Dwayne The Rock Johnson. "The Rock" pulled Mitchell into the ring with him for 7 or 8 minutes in Fayetteville. Afterwards – this is all on DVD – the professional wrestler looked at young Mitchell and told him he was one of the bravest people he knew.)
Mitchell's chemo ended in 2004.
Today, he's as healthy as any other 21-year-old. In fact, he's studying to become a health fitness specialist.
Welcome to #MollysKids, Mitchell. From the many parents reading this right now as their own children battle, thank you for the hope.