Best-friends battle cancer together

By Erika Mahoney

August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 29, 2013 at 10:24 AM EDT

Hancock, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Seth Simmons and Ethan Jacobs were destined to be friends, long before their lives would take parallel turns.

"We've been friends ever since we were like 3 or 4," said Seth.

The two teens, now 14 and 15, go to school together and play sports together.

But they never thought they'd be diagnosed with cancer together.

In the spring of 2010, Seth's life turned upside down.

"I was at the doctor's office," said Seth. "I saw my mom was crying, I didn't know what she was doing. She said, 'I can't tell you right now.' When we got home, my grandma, my mom and my dad got on the couch and told me I was diagnosed with leukemia."

Ethan was heartbroken.

"I was on the way back from one of my own doctor's appointments," said Ethan. "And my mom got a call. And she looked over at me, like I can still vividly see her saying 'Seth has lymphoma,' because they originally diagnosed him with that."

It was only a matter of time before his shock hit even closer to home when he received his own diagnosis.

"I didn't even know what to think, I was so mad," said Ethan. "I wanted to go play football, I wanted to go play basketball, but I'm stuck in this hospital bed with nurses sticking needles in me and this poison that makes you feel like you're going to die.

"But I honestly think as bad as it may be, I think we were diagnosed around the same time and I think it was a blessing, a hidden blessing, because it made it a lot easier for my parents to communicate about it, and me and him to communicate about it."

Seth was diagnosed on a Tuesday, Ethan the following Friday.

The same week, the same type of cancer: Acute lymphocytic leukemia.

"Seth felt horrible for Ethan," Kim Simmons said. "To know that he was going to have to start what he had just started a few days before."

The news came after both found lumps in their throats, and had been going to see their doctors for a few months.

Kim Simmons and Kate Jacobs questioned how both boys could be diagnosed with the same illness.

"We got in touch with the department of health," said Kim.

"I can't remember his name, but I talked to him (with the department of health) quite a few times," said Kate. "But there was so much treatment and so much travel. And Ethan got very, very sick, so I couldn't concentrate on that at the time."

Seth and Ethan just finished their three-and-a-half-year chemotherapy treatment last July.

Through the treatment, they leaned on each other, their families, and sports -- playing basketball on the same team.

"They would actually give extra time outs for us, because we had two kids starting that had leukemia," said coach and dad Pat Simmons. "It was very challenging, and they learned a lot of life lessons, of how not to give up and to persevere and to fight."

Life lessons the two said have made them stronger and more caring.

In light of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, they are hosting a fundraiser for Make a Wish and Alex's Lemonade Stand.

The festival will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday at the French Woods Golf Course. It's open to the public.