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Here's how you can help a Virginia boy battling leukemia for a second time

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Posted at 7:17 PM, May 30, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Cayden Addison is 7 years old, and according to his mom, he's a sweet and loving boy who loves food.

Cayden is also battling his second diagnosis of a rare form of leukemia.

Cayden's mom, Courtney Addison, says he was first told he had leukemia in April 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Cayden was just three years old.

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Cayden and his mom, Courtney

"It all started with him experiencing leg pain, we kind of just brushed it off thinking that it was growing pains," Addison said. "But unfortunately that leg pain progressed to a lack of appetite. He even came to the point where he had a stiff neck and was unable to turn his head back and forth."

After trips to the emergency room and Cayden's pediatrician, Addison says an extremely rare form of leukemia was to blame for his mysterious symptoms.

Two years of chemotherapy, treatments, and hospital stays later, he finished his treatment in April 2022, exactly two years after he was first diagnosed with leukemia.

"Unfortunately, in February of 2023, he relapsed," Addison said.

The second diagnosis resulted in more chemotherapy and even a new treatment called CAR T-cell therapy, where Cayden twice spent 37 days at Duke's Children's Hospital in North Carolina.

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"It wasn't successful at keeping him into complete remission. And so that's kind of where we are today," Addison said.

Now, Addison and her family are looking for a bone marrow donor for Cayden. She says a donation will hopefully prevent the production of leukemia cells.

On Sunday, June 2, the family will hold an event to help find Cayden a bone marrow donor. Anyone aged 18 to 40 is welcome to have their cheek swabbed at the event to see if they could be a potential match.

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"The process to get tested is very simple," Addison said. "You'll fill out a quick online form, it takes less than two minutes. And then it's just a simple cheek swab."

For those unable to attend the event, Addison says you can text Cayden CFC to 61474, and have a testing kit mailed to your home.

"The National Marrow Donor Program covers the cost of [a bone marrow donation]," Addison said. "So you never have to worry about any costs being associated with you."

Besides age, there aren't many criteria that a potential bone marrow donor must meet. However, African Americans are less likely to find a match.

"If we are able to get more African Americans on the registry, that is a higher chance that Cayden will find an African American match," Addison said. "I just really want to encourage the Black community to come out strong, help a fellow African American boy to potentially save his life. That doesn't mean that someone outside of that race can't be a match for Cayden, but the likelihood will be increased more if they are African American."

The Addison family's main goal from the cheek swabbing event is to find a match for Cayden. But it will also serve other purposes as well.

"Even if we can't find a match for Cayden, then for somebody else. This is something that no parent should have to go through," Addison said. "But if I can help another parent to find a match or donation, that would be great as well."

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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