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Colter’s Story: the right services and people matter

The first sign that something was seriously wrong was when Colter Martin, a Juneau Douglas High School senior, began to struggle to keep up with his teammates at basketball practices and had difficulty breathing. Scans of his chest later showed a recurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prompting his family to immediately travel to Seattle to undergo cancer treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Unfortunately, this is not Colter’s first time battling cancer. In February of 2021, he underwent a clinical trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma that included six chemo cycles, every 28 days for six months. He and his parents spent those six months in Seattle, initially at the Seattle Ronald McDonald House, and eventually renting out an unfurnished apartment for the duration and purchasing a vehicle to access the hospital.

Knowing what lay ahead, Kathleen, Colter’s mom, opened her laptop and searched for places they could live. But the same apartments she had seen the previous year were $800 more a month than the first time.  

“I think there’s a lot of housing around here, but it’s mainly for work people coming in for a short time, and they charge them quite a bit of money,” Kathleen said. The Martin’s found themselves priced out of the Seattle housing market, but on top of that, it also takes time, energy, and finances to find, furnish and set up a place to the point that it’s livable. 

Not knowing where to turn, they reached out to the Seattle RMHC for a second time. Luckily a room was available, which they have been calling home for the last four months. “Staying at RMHC, there are just five less things to worry about. It’s an opportunity to deal with his condition as best we can without a million other things taking away energy, like chasing down housing and worrying about bills,” said Donald Martin, Colter’s dad. 

Colter is undergoing the same cancer treatment plan he had in 2021, but this time he will also receive a stem cell transplant. Going through a cancer diagnosis a second time around doesn’t make it any easier, but knowing you have the right community of people to help you get through it does. Colter has the same medical team that successfully treated his cancer into remission in 2021 and a stable place to live at our Seattle House with support services like daily meals, laundry facilities, furnished rooms, and a short walk to the hospital for doctor appointments and treatments. RMHC supports families like the Martin’s so that a medical emergency doesn’t become a financially insurmountable obstacle, and families can celebrate life accomplishments amid a crisis and thoughtfully plan for the future.  

At the moment, Colter has a happy and important decision to make while he gets better. This week he is picking which college he should attend next fall, where he plans to study law to become a lawyer. So far, he has been accepted into the University of Wyoming, Purdue University, and a Washington favorite, Gonzaga University!

Your support helps families like Colter’s at a difficult time in their lives. To learn more about how to get involved, visit our Donate or Volunteer pages!