GROVES, Texas — Two families in Southeast Texas have formed an unexpected relationship.
They both have a kid with a rare disease and have supported one another to keep the fight on.
At the age of three, Hadley Fults went from being a healthy little girl to fighting for her life.
Hadley's mother Devon Fults says “She was literally perfectly fine one day and in a coma and on a ventilator the next, the onset was very quick.”
Hadley, who is now six, was diagnosed with Autoimmune Encephalitis in March 2016.
It’s a rare disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the brain.
Right now there is no cure, but one treatment has helped lift her spirits in the form of a bond.
Two years after Hadley's diagnosis, on the same day, Nathan Stelly, 4, received his own heartbreaking news that would change his life as well.
He got word in 2018 that he had Pre B Cell ALL, a form of leukemia.
With both having to fight, they chose to become friends and battle together during treatment.
Nathan's mother Michelle Stelly says “A lot of their play was medical play, but it was play and you can see that they both were amazed that they had a friend that could relate to them.”
Hadley and Nathan have been going to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
They’re friendship includes playing games and watching movies during treatment, which Hadley says is her favorite thing to do.
Hadley says “I like to go visit Nathan a lot in the hospital.”
Perhaps a sign that these two were meant to fight together may be the date March 9.
That is when Hadley and Nathan were diagnosed and both were three years old.
The road has been tough for both families, but they refuse to lose faith.
“She may walk into the room crying and scared, but she will buck up and go in and get it done," says Fults. "I mean she’s far braver than I am.”
“He’s even told me ‘mommy, I want to live here because i have friends here’ because he’s been at home quarantined for so long," says Stelly. "He’s been yanked out of daycare and so forth, but he really enjoys it.”
Nathan even showed 12News us where he gets poked with needles during treatment, he calls them butterflies.
He also enjoys the toys he gets to pick out after every visit.
Nathan says “First, I get tickets and then I go to the front desk area where there’s a bunch of toys.”
The Fults' and Stelly's are cousins and are being featured this month through an organization called “Go Shout Love.”
It provides awareness and support for families with children who have rare diseases.
The two families are the first to have two kids featured through the organization in the same month, which is fitting because this pair seems to remain solid no matter the obstacle.
Fults says “Having a friend of course with that is great, but having a family members has been even more powerful.”
With "Go Shout Love" featuring these two families during March, you can support them by purchasing t-shirts and other items that help with medical costs that are not covered by insurance.
- Chemo treatments for Hadley.
- Medical expenses and at home childcare for Nathan until he’s released to return to preschool.
- Two surgeries for Hollyn, 2, (eye & kidney), who is Hadley's younger sister and shares the same metabolic disorder that Hadley has too.
There is some good news, Nathan is currently in remission from his Leukemia.