A Special Bond: Part 1
They played all afternoon. The score on the game was close, however, before long - touchdown Kaiden! - and just like that, the nine-year-old took the lead.
Kaiden laughed. It isn't his first touchdown, he reminded Mueller.
Mueller's busy football schedule allowed him only one day in Philadelphia this summer to visit his friend undergoing cancer treatments, so the duo made the most of their time doing what they love: hanging out together.
Mueller and Kaiden's relationship is special. It's a bond created by a single hospital visit back in January 2013, but, over time, it has blossomed into something bigger.
"It's just been fun, I don't know how else to describe it," said Kaiden's mom, Jenny Schroeder about her son's relationship with Mueller. "Kaiden has so much fun with Ryan, even if it's just talking to him on the phone. To Kaiden, Ryan is on TV, everybody knows Ryan; so he's like this big celebrity."
Five years ago, when Kaiden was just four years old, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Since then, it has been a long and strenuous road for the Schroeders filled with visits to and from of the hospital. Kaiden has been strong through chemo treatments and he's been strong through the many birthdays and Christmases he has had to spend in the hospital. He's been strong through spinal taps and bone marrow transplants and surgeries.
Even when he doesn't feel good, Kaiden Schroeder has been strong.
So this summer, when Kaiden and his family packed up and headed east so Kaiden could undergo treatments at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia - he continued to be strong. During his visit in Philadelphia for treatments, Kaiden was admitted to the hospital for nearly 10 days after spiking a fever. It got so bad he wound up spending two days in the hospital's ICU.
Those weren't easy days, yet regardless of circumstances, Kaiden stayed strong through it all and after an entire month in Philadelphia, the Schroeders finally began hearing good news.
In the beginning of July, Kaiden underwent a new T Cell Treatment. He became one of only 30 children to use this new method of leukemia treatment, and while Jenny said no one is completely certain what the future holds, right now things are looking good for her son.
On July 3, Kaiden was reported in complete remission and 100 percent cancer free.
"This is the face of a kid who is 100% leukemia free today!" Jenny wrote on Kaiden's CaringBridge.org journal next to a photo of Kaiden sporting a huge smile. "While we don't know what tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year holds...today we celebrate that Kaiden is in complete remission and has been cleared to go HOME!"
Hearing the news put a smile on Muller's face. Excited to hear the words "Kaiden" and "cancer free" in the same sentence, Mueller wasted no time sharing the news with his teammates.
"It's huge, he has been a huge motivation for me," Mueller said. "Kaiden's been able to motivate not only me to see the bigger picture, but my teammates also. He's had such a huge impact on a lot of guys on the team."
To be continued...