OKLAHOMA CITY - Keaton Barron loves playing and watching basketball with his family.
He still remembers the time he held up a sign at a Thunder game that showed off his bucket list and the two boxes he had checked off.
One said “Beat Cancer” and another said “Plan a trip to Disneyland.”
The box that wasn’t checked said “Meet Kevin Durant.”
You see, Keaton had beaten leukemia at that point in his life, and even rang the bell to signify the end of treatment at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.
Durant did see his sign that night, and quickly arranged a meeting so Keaton could check off that box. He later sent him basketball shoes as well.
But today, Keaton is back at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center, waiting for an appointment. His leukemia came back. But Keaton’s face doesn’t show disappointment about being here.
“Keaton is an old soul. He's been like an old man since he was a baby, so he's really handled it beautifully from the beginning," Holly Barron, Keaton's mother, said.
Holly says Keaton was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2-years-old.
For three years, she juggled his chemotherapy treatments while having two more children.
But not long after doctors finally gave him the “all clear,” Keaton started having headaches. One day he asked his mom for help reading a clock that was right in front of him.
"So I held him up and I held him closer,” says Holly. “And he said, 'I don't see numbers.' His spinal fluid pressure was so high it was pushing on his optic nerve and he couldn't see."
“We did a spinal tap and found unfortunately that his leukemia came back in the spinal fluid," says pediatric oncologist Dr. Chinni Pokala. Pokala says it’s not clear why Keaton’s leukemia came roaring back, but despair is not walking the halls of Jimmy Everest.
"The cure rates are still good. They are still around 80-percent range although it does require more chemo, more spinal taps" he explains.
Holly says the attitude from staff upon their return for treatment was crucial.
"The thing that surprised me was when we came back was that I worried people would say, 'I'm so sorry.' But we walked in the first day and people were like 'OK, let's do it, let's get to work.”
Wiping away tears, she added, “No one felt sorry for us, which was great. That’s exactly what we needed."
Keaton’s cancer fight stretches ahead for months.
He’s patient, optimistic, and the kind of kid who decided to hold a “Welcome Back KD” sign when the star returned with his new team to play in Oklahoma City.
Keaton knows the way to win the game is to just keep playing.
For more information, visit the Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.
'Kids With Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.