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Noah Stull looks out over his backyard from atop his swing set in Mount Sterling, Ky. One day when playing, Noah broke his arm after a small fall. This prompted his mother, Shannon Stull, to seek advice from their pediatrician, who diagnosed him with leukemia.

Sick Blood

by Zane Meyer-Thornton and Brenna Pepke • Spring 2022

If you ask Noah Stull, a six-year-old boy from Mount Sterling, Ky., what his favorite thing to do at home is, you might get an answer you weren’t expecting: werewolf hunting. On any given day, Noah can be found selecting from his arsenal of Nerf guns to prepare himself for this adventure. If he’s lucky, he would have already fueled up on his favorite – homemade biscuits and gravy from his mom, Shannon.
Noah was adopted by Shannon and her husband, Stan, a few months after he was born.

“This is not what we pictured and seen our life being like at this age,” Shannon said.
Before the adoption took place, Shannon was helping babysit Noah, but his birth mother was no longer able to care for him due to medical reasons. Shannon and Stan couldn’t bear the thought of Noah ending up in the foster care system, so they decided to adopt him.

The Stulls are no strangers to parenthood – their other two children are 32 and 29 – but raising Noah has been a whole new ball game. Noah is explorative, energetic and curious about the world. On the outside, he’s just like any other kid, maybe with a few more bumps and bruises. But on the inside, it’s a different story.

Noah Stulls cuddles with his stuffed animals.
Noah Stull cuddles two of his stuffed animals inside his home in Mount Sterling, Ky. His childhood has been far different from most. He was adopted within his first year of life and is currently undergoing treatment for leukemia. Despite these challenges, Noah's loving support system of family and University of Kentucky doctors helps him lead a happy, healthy life.
“This is not what we pictured and seen our life being like at this age."

At four years old, Noah began showing concerning signs. He broke his arm unusually easy and was experiencing fevers only at night. Shannon took him to his pediatrician, which would turn out to be the first in a long line of doctors’ visits. After administering a blood test, Dr. Rick Hall urged Shannon to take Noah to an emergency room in Lexington with an alarming diagnosis: leukemia.

The news rattled Shannon to her core. She had no idea how to process this, but she did know that she had to be strong. Fortunately for her, the team at the UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital would be able to devise a comprehensive plan to help treat Noah’s leukemia.

“If you get nothing else, just know that the team at UK has been absolutely wonderful,” Shannon said.

When word spread about Noah’s illness, Shannon’s relatives and the community stepped up to assist the Stulls however they could. Her mother, daughter and daughter-in-law help her take care of Noah, and others in her hometown have expressed their unrelenting support and sent well wishes.

Though Noah is still undergoing treatments for his leukemia, his family is hopeful he can overcome it.

“It takes a village to raise this child,” Shannon said.