NORTH WILKESBORO, NC (WBTV) - Addison Bridges is a sick 2-year-old in the picture on the left. Today, he's the adorable 6-year-old charmer on the right... healthy and cancer-free.
Addison is a positive #MollysKids story. As this is being posted, he's in class, a 1st-grader at Mountain View Elementary in North Wilkesboro. He loves baseball, his younger brother and making his parents proud.
A far cry from 2011 when he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor.
His parents know something was wrong because -- and this is kinda crazy to hear -- because Addison's body was showing signs of puberty at only 2 years old.
"We knew something wasn't right," said his mom Ashley. "But we never imagined the answer was, 'Your child has cancer.'"
The specific diagnosis was "a germ cell tumor". Doctors at Brenner Children's Hospital are the ones who found it, but further research led Addison to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee. There he had chemo, two brain surgeries, a spinal surgery, 30 rounds of radiation and stem cells collected and harvested.
It got rough. Ashley says at one point, super intense high-dose chemo caused burns on her baby's skin -- he had to have a bath every 4 hours for 4 days to help keep it in check.
A year after he went to St. Jude, Addison was released and declared NED (No Evidence of Disease).
Three-and-a-half years later, that remains true.
With that said... Ashley wants people to know that just because cancers are "gone" doesn't mean the kids are home-free.
"He still has to have surgery every year to put an implant in his arm to the control his growth," she said. "His body still thinks it needs to be growing since the tumor caused puberty. If he didn't have this implant then his growth plates would cap off and he'd only grow to be 5-feet tall."
Addison will keep that arm implant and get it changed every year until he goes through puberty on his own.
"He's a 'good' story and I am beyond grateful for him to be cancer-free," Ashley said. "I read all your #MollysKids stories and know how lucky I am to have him here to hold. But it's worth noting that as if the treatments to get rid of cancer isn't hard enough on our kids, many of them still face more difficult problems after treatments are over."
You can read more on his FB >> www.facebook.com/addisonspageofhope
And, you can see a song written for Addison's battle by a family friend in Wilkes County called "The Faith" here >> https://youtu.be/TQx6sbnNiuY
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness (ACTION) Month.
Please, don't get sick of reading about these amazing fighters in our backyard. Feel free to share Addison's story – feel free to share all the stories of all 30 kids this month. These kids are worth the effort.