3 kids who battled cancer together at UPMC Children’s ring bell signaling end of treatment

Three kids celebrated a huge milestone at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the end of last week.

Julius Stevenson, 11, Addison George, 8, and Sam Houtz, 14, all rang a bell Friday signaling the end of their cancer treatment together. The trio went through their cancer journeys at the same time and became friends. They even all had bone marrow transplants around the same time.

For Addison, her cancer journey started in 2019. Her mom Melissa says she was diagnosed with a type of leukemia while they were on vacation in Florida. She had two and half years of treatment before reaching remission, but the cancer came back seven months later. That’s when it was suggested she get a bone marrow transplant.

“Today marks 13 months since transplant, cancer-free, death of leukemia,” Melissa said when asked what the day meant.

She said she’s grateful this day has come for her family.

“We lived in isolation for about four and a half years while she underwent treatment and recovered from treatment and dealt with treatment again.”

Julius and Sam, who also battled forms of leukemia, are now considered family by the George’s. Julius’ cancer journey began nine years ago and Sam’s about five months after Addison’s.

“On paper, our three kids should have never crossed paths, having a transplant together,” Melissa said.

The odds of the kids having transplants at about the same time were also low, but it happened. And they were neighbors while recovering at the hospital.

“We cried together, we laughed together, we supported each other and reminded each other to breathe, we prayed and watched all three of our kids cheered out of the ninth floor for a ceremony of being released after transplant.”

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