WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — Kaden Payne is 17-years-old and a junior at Wake Forest High School. If you ask him what he’s passionate about, he’ll most likely say baseball.
Payne is a pitcher for his high school and travel teams.
“I’ve played baseball since I was about 4. My dad played all the way up to AAA and my brother plays at North Carolina Central [University]. So, baseball is in our family,” he said.
However, his young career has had to take a back seat since he was diagnosed with colon cancer in October.
“It’s an emotion that I’ve never felt before,” Payne said.
Payne spent weeks in the hospital. He also underwent surgery and a chemotherapy treatment.
That all was coupled with a tough recovery process.
As he was going through this, the community rallied around him and his family. Community members and his baseball family started the hashtag, #FightWithKaden.
There’s also a GoFundMe page set up to help with expenses.
“It was boosting. It feels like I’m not going through this alone and being are willing to rally around me and pick me back up,” Payne said.
Just days before Thanksgiving, not only was Payne released from the hospital, but he was able to walk out without a wheelchair.
“Probably the best timing ever. I got to spend it with my family,” he said smiling.
However, before leaving the hospital he gave some words of encouragement to a another young patient going through the same thing.
“We received a text message from his grandmother saying that the next day when he woke up he was smiling and he was positive. It was because of Kaden’s visit with him,” Payne’s mom, Stephanie Varela said.
Payne said he’s also developed a relationship with Baltimore Orioles outfielder, Trey Mancini, who was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year.
He also received some encouraging words in a letter from Lin Manuel-Miranda, the creator of the Broadway musical Hamilton.