11-year-old gets ready for soccer, Disney, after being declared ‘cancer-free’
By Frankie Boston
Photos/Submitted to The Source & Laura Benz
Jacksonville’s very own “superhero,” Kashton Thomas, is cancer-free after fighting lymphoblastic lymphoma stage II for the last two years.
Kashton’s mother, Heather Thomas, said that over the last two years, the family has seen an incredible display of community support and strength from her son that has left her in awe. Thomas said learning that Kashton was cancer-free has been a surreal feeling, and realizing her son won his battle and is alive and well has made her much more grateful.
“He won. I just find myself in awe of how I watched my baby fight something that not a lot of children survive. It’s humbling and has made us all so much more grateful for life and the family that we have,” Thomas said.
Kashton was nine when he was diagnosed, and in the last two years, has had chemotherapy sessions, infusions, spinal taps and lab work to attend. Thomas said part of the stress of the last two years was organizing her family to get Kashton to where he needed to be as well as Kashton’s two siblings who are both very involved in sports.
“To now have that weight of worry lifted feels so amazing. I know that we will still constantly worry about him, and we will still have to check and screen him, but right now, in this very moment, it’s so relieving to know that fear is over,” Thomas said.
The Jacksonville community showed up for the Thomas family. Heather Thomas said they would get stopped in grocery stores by people to pray for them, give them a hug and overall share positive energy with them. Staff, educators and students at Kashton’s school, South Elementary, wore shirts to support Kashton, sent cards and gifts, and overall championed him throughout the last two years. Thomas said the soccer club for which their family plays even had jerseys made to represent Kashton.
“We will forever be grateful for every person who reached out, prayed and just loved our family through this process. The closeness and love you get from this town is unmatched,” Thomas said.
On Saturday, July 8, all “Kash Warriors” were summoned to the Ferris wheel in Jacksonville’s Community Park to celebrate Kashton Thomas’ victory over cancer. The lucky day for Kashton and his family was July 7 — when he was able to finally ring his victory bell. His mother said it was a long hard fight, but Kash was strong and crushed it.
Thomas shared a lot of Kashton’s cancer fight via Facebook and shared a quote after Kashton rang the victory bell: “The Comeback is always greater than the setback, and I can’t wait to watch this boy of ours spread his wings and conquer the world.”
Thomas said while there have been so many people over the last two years who have supported and impacted her family’s life, she would like to highlight Dr. Gregory Brandt. Brandt was Kashton’s oncologist at St. John Children’s Hospital, and according to Thomas, always answered every middle-of-the-night text or call and talked with them throughout the whole process.
“[Brandt] saved our baby. He gave everything to us straight and always gave us the best care and beyond for Kashton. We are eternally grateful for him. He will forever be a special person to our family,” Thomas said.
Thomas said her family is excited for the future. Kashton’s maternal grandmother had promised him that the whole family would go to Disney World once he completed treatment, and she is now working on booking Kashton’s dream vacation for November.
Thomas said her whole family loves sports; Kashton and his older brother, Braedyn, are both soccer players. Kashton has missed out on two years of soccer that he is now excited to make up, by playing travel soccer with Jax United in the fall and trying out for sports at Jacksonville Middle School.
“He intends to make up for all the lost time he couldn’t play! He’s already out in the yard putting in work with his brother and conditioning to build some stamina and endurance. We cannot wait to see him out there with all his friends and being a normal 11-year-old,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she has been amazed by her son during his fight against cancer. She said she has never met anyone as determined and strong as her son, and the past two years has brought his family together to be stronger and closer than ever. Thomas said anyone who has had a chance to meet Kashton is better for it.
“He has always been the smile that could brighten my worst day, and he never lost that sparkle, even when he was at his lowest. We get to see our baby grow up and live a long happy life; there is no greater gift than that. He is a true miracle,” Thomas said.
To support Kashton and celebrate him beating cancer, visit “Fight Like Kash” on Facebook. They are currently selling “Kash Crushed Cancer” shirts; Thomas said Kashton has a goal to sell 300 shirts and they are nearly a third of the way to their goal.