6-year-old cancer survivor gets to open Disneyland gates

(ANAHEIM, Calif.) — Six-year-old cancer survivor Linden Bradley wanted just one thing from Make-A-Wish.

“[Make-A-Wish] told him, you can go anywhere you want to go, and he said Disneyland!” Linden’s mom Julia Bradley told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

And go to Disneyland is exactly what he did. Like other kids his age, Linden loves the “happiest place on Earth.” Last Friday, his wish to go to the theme park during his favorite “spooky” Halloween season was granted by Mickey Mouse himself.

“I got to open Disneyland!” Linden said.

With much fanfare, he received the key to the kingdom along with his family and opened the gates of the park to the public.

“It was such a special moment,” Bradley said.

The gate opening was an added surprise for Linden. The family of four came down from their hometown of Pitt Meadows, a suburb of Vancouver in Canada, for the weeklong trip.

After the grand opening ceremony, Linden and his family headed to the Haunted Mansion ride. When he got off, a Disney cast member was waiting for him and appointed Linden “honorary mayor” of the mansion for the day.

“I felt great!” Linden said.

The family also attended the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween party, and they got to trick-or-treat dressed as The Incredibles. Linden’s mom emphasized that the festivities meant a lot to Linden and the whole family. Her birthday was also that day. She added that she almost got emotional.

“It was hard, especially on that day, to hold back tears of happiness because he’d been through so much, and to see him look so well and so happy and so full of energy — just to be a kid again,” Bradley said.

This magical day comes at the end of an anything but magical year for Linden and his family.

Last March, he was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt Lymphoma after experiencing some flu-like symptoms. Not long after, he was rushed via ambulance to a nearby children’s hospital. But when he arrived, he was moved straight up to oncology. That night, his parents learned that their son’s imaging revealed cancer.

“It took everything within me not to fall to my knees on the ground and bawl my eyes out because I had to be strong,” Bradley said.

Linden’s doctors told his parents that he would need six to eight months of full inpatient treatment.

“That was a hard pill to swallow … trying to explain that to a six-year-old,” Bradley said.

However, Linden’s little body responded well to treatment. After four rounds of inpatient chemotherapy, he was discharged in June.

As quickly as the cancer diagnosis entered their lives, it left. Seventh months after his initial diagnosis, Linden is now cancer-free. Although Linden still undergoes monthly blood work and monitoring by doctors, he keeps his spirits high.

“Our favorite part of the Disney trip was just to be able to spend time as family … and that something so awful as cancer has brought us together,” Bradley said.

Linden, who’s in first grade, said he likes his teacher at school and he told GMA that he loves to “drive [his mother] crazy.”

The family is preparing for his big sister Keira’s birthday this week. For now, they’re back to normal.

“It’s going to make it difficult to go back to Disneyland without [Make-A-Wish],” Bradley said laughing.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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