Colton Hirt and his big brother, Hayden. Hayden is leading a fundraising team on behalf of LLS for their Students of the Year Campaign in Colton’s honor.

Colton Hirt and his big brother, Hayden. Hayden is leading a fundraising team on behalf of LLS for their Students of the Year Campaign in Colton’s honor.

We all read and hear about victims of cancer, then continue on with our day. But when cancer hits you or a close family member, it’s like a punch in the gut. Get ready for the fight of your life. Get ready for everyone’s life to be turned upside down while you’re trying to come to grips with what’s vitally important and what’s not, day after day.      

Beginning in September 2019 these are just a few of the complexities the Hirt family faced and continue to face after son Colton began showing strange physical signs, recalled Tyson Hirt. “Colton was a very active young man. He then began waking up with swollen eye lids and cheeks which then went away during the school day. A primary care physician diagnosed it as allergies, and put him on a treatment. However, the swelling just kept getting worse.”

Tyson and wife Jennifer were now getting suspicious that something ominous was happening. After a second doctor examination, a CT scan was ordered and things got serious, continued Tyson. “We took him in for a CT Scan that was supposed to take five minutes and be no big deal. After Jennifer and I waited close to an hour, we began looking at each other like we knew something was wrong.”

Tyson and Jennifer’s feelings were correct. A mass of fluid surrounding Colton’s heart was discovered, and he was immediately admitted into a pediatric intensive care unit. After further examination, it was determined that the fluid was compressing Colton’s heart, and he was air lifted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Tyson continued. “After hearing this, the tears started. Jennifer flew there with Colton, and I drove there in silence, all the time praying.” The doctors then installed a picc line to administer drugs, and a tube was inserted to drain the fluid from the heart cavity. They then began running tests to find out what was causing the fluid.”  

Hours later, Tyson and Jennifer were surrounded by six doctors who explained that it was either cancer or a virus, continued Tyson. “We were all praying for a virus. Then it came back that it was cancer. We then prayed that it wasn’t a blood cancer, and it came back as blood cancer. When you hear those words from a doctor, it was devastating, and all we could think about was what are we going to do! We wanted to save his life, and at this point we would do whatever it takes.”

Colton’s condition was then diagnosed as a specific type of blood cancer called T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a higher risk type that needs a very aggressive treatment of multiple chemo therapies and steroids for three and a half years.

For the first month, Tyson and Jennifer mostly stayed close to the hospital, while also trying to spend time with their other two children back home. Tyson was also trying to run his company, Hartland Granite in Wichita, Kansas. However, realizing that he was being pulled in too many directions, Tyson said he had to sell the company, adding, “You think you know about cancer, you know it’s terrible, but when it actually impacts you and it’s your child, it’s devastating!” 

Not an End, but a New Beginning

After being released from Children’s Mercy Hospital, Colton, for six months, had to have Chemo injections twice a day into his stomach, explained Tyson. “His stomach was so covered in bruises, that sometimes we didn’t know where to give him the next shot. He was always a brave kid, and in many, many ways he is much stronger than my wife and I. He has such a positive attitude and is such a happy little guy, that he has been the glue that has kept the five of us together.” 

Due to the high doses of steroids and medications he was taking, Colton also developed what’s known as adrenal insufficiency, where the adrenal glands shut down. Pills to add cortisone to regulate his adrenal level are taken daily, to this day. He also had to revisit the hospital during Christmas of 2020 due to a blood clot in his arm. 


Colton, now 8 years old, is currently in stage four maintenance and continues to recover. His energy is up, he looks good, and he’s looking forward to playing football. Colton also aspires to be a movie actor, but not just any actor– A Star Wars movie actor.

The staff at BB Industries LLC and the staff and writers at the Slippery Rock Gazette send out their best wishes to Colton, Tyson, Jennifer, Hayden and Olivia. 

To learn more about Leukemia & Lymphoma, go to 

To donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, go to

To donate to Colton’s fundraiser, go to .