In September 2015, when Colton was only 17 months old, Colleen noticed he was drooling, and his movements were clumsy and off-kilter. She took Colton to the emergency room, where tests revealed his symptoms were caused by an aggressive brain tumor called a high grade glioma.
Colton underwent brain surgery at home in Wisconsin to completely remove the tumor, and was referred to St. Jude, in Memphis, Tennessee, for continued treatment. Colleen recalled her uncertainty at traveling so far from home without a support system: “I said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m a single mom. I have a 4-year-old daughter, too. How long do I have to make this decision?’”
Then Colleen learned families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all they should worry about is helping their child live. “I was astounded, to say the least, when I learned St. Jude pays for everything,” Colleen said. “I was blown away. I didn’t believe it at first.”
Colleen, Colton and sister Malea headed to St. Jude, where Colton has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy for his treatment.
“Literally, St. Jude spares no expense,” said Colleen. “It doesn’t matter the cost, they’re going to do what’s in the best interest of my child. The attitude is not to wait and see if something happens, but rather to make sure nothing happens.”
The family is back at home in Wisconsin now, where Colton is on maintenance chemotherapy to complete his treatment. Despite what he’s been through, Colton is an easygoing toddler who loves music, trains, and above all else, the movie Toy Story.