An 8-year-old cancer patient who has decorated her room at Maine Medical Center in Portland with Tom Brady memorabilia got her Christmas wish Saturday – a hug from the Patriots quarterback at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Hailey Steward of Bethel has been fighting leukemia since she was first diagnosed at age 5. She’s a huge Brady fan. She has decorated her room with Brady “Elf on the Shelf,” a cutout photo of the star quarterback’s head and at least two No. 12 blankets.

She told the Portland Press Herald in an interview published Friday that she “hates the (Philadelphia) Eagles.”

Brady learned about Hailey when he read the Press Herald story on Christmas Day and sent her a video message, wishing her a Merry Christmas and inviting her to come to Foxborough to meet with him on Saturday.

“I was hoping you’d be willing to come down here this Saturday before we leave for New York and I’d get a chance to meet you,” Brady said. “So maybe you can ask your Mom and Dad if that’s what you want for Christmas.”

Hailey’s family has published several photos of the encounter on their Facebook page, including a photo of Brady smothering Hailey with a hug.


“As a Dad, this was truly one of the most amazing days of my life to see my girl get her wish,” wrote Hailey’s father, John Steward, on the Facebook page, “Hailey’s Journey Our Journey.” He said he’s thrilled that Brady recognized her strength and determination to beat leukemia.

“Tom Brady is an amazing man and to reach out to us and meet us today was way more than we expected,” he wrote. “He is a true Patriot and all patriot fans should be proud. I know I will forever be.”

Hailey was discharged from the hospital on Thursday to spend Christmas with her family.

Her leukemia was diagnosed when she was 5, and returned in October.

She faces either a 2½-year course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, or a shorter, but more intense, treatment plan that includes a bone marrow transplant, said her mother, Tabaitha Steward. Her doctors say that she has a 70 percent chance of being cancer-free for good once she completes treatment.

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