Kindness of strangers eases bullying stigma for young leukemia fighter

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City second grader was diagnosed with leukemia and started to lose his hair. Then he started to dread going to school after kids made fun of his appearance, until two strangers came to his defense.

“It was really hard for me to leave him and let him go to school,” said Crystal Shoemaker.

Her son Caden was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was just five years old. After two years of treatment he was cancer free. But this January, on her birthday, Caden was diagnosed with spinal cord cancer.

Caden has lost all of his hair and kids at school made fun of him, something a fourth grader and kindergartener couldn't ignore.

“I told my mom, ‘we need to do something,’” said Deyton Brown.

Deyton and his little brother shaved their heads and had “Team Caden” put on the sides. Deyton had never met Caden, but when he and his brother got back to school, Caden realized he had two new friends.

“I like how they support me,” said Caden.

It was the kind of support that had adults at school taking notice.

“I looked at myself and said, ‘how can I let them be the only two that did this?’” said teacher Brian Crane.

So Crane buzzed his hair off too and soon Caden started to realize he wasn't alone and had more friends than he thought.

“They aren't making fun of me, it's better than that,” said Caden.

Deyton hopes his buzzed head will serve as a reminder of a special message for people of all ages.

“If something is happening you can help. No matter if know them, if you don't know them,” said Deyton.

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