Arizona teen meets Blink 182's Travis Barker amid cancer battle, thanks to Australian man

Music is often healing. It can bring people together and help many forget their problems, and that's especially true for a talented young musician in the Valley who is in the middle of a brutal battle.

13-year-old Alex Etheridge feels at home playing the drums. Green Day is his favorite band, and he makes his parents, Brian and Jessica Etheridge, proud.

"Saturday afternoon, we were in the studio for four hours recording a song that Alex wrote, and Sunday, we came back," Brian said.

"It was amazing," Jessica said. "It was really cool."

The Etheridge family recently got back from a trip to Minneapolis, where Alex and the band Soul Asylum recorded Alex's song, ‘Home Sweet Home.’

"It was about how comforting my home is whenever I’m away," Alex said. "I look forward to going home and feeling safe."

"He’d written the guitar riff, drums, lyrics, kind of had it all tied out, so when we sat down with Soul Asylum, it all kind of flowed," Brian said.

The meeting was made possible by a love of music, as well as a hatred of cancer.

Over a year ago, Alex had leg pain. The diagnosis, on January 31st, 2022, was devastating.

"We went from a kid complaining about his leg hurting after walking with his friends all day and then being fine the next day, to now he’s got bone cancer," Brian said.

Alex's treatment plan has been aggressive, and his knee has been replaced. The cancer, however, has been relentless.

"Sometimes, it gets late at night, I’ll get scared and anxiety and start crying," Alex said. "But I usually just listen to music, and eventually I calm down."

Through chemotherapy, radiation, and now a second clinical trial, music has been his saving grace. While Alex's fight continues, community support pours in.

Anyone who meets Alex or the Etheridge family becomes a cheerleader. In between medical procedures, his family is determined to live life.

"We’ve had some mottos that we’ve been living by as we’ve been going through this: ‘Do what you can, when you can,’" Brian said.  "Give yourself some grace on the days you’re too sick to do anything, or under too much stress. The other one is we’re making medical decisions like there’s a cure, and life decisions like there’s not."

"Everyone made me feel loved," Alex said. "And that showed me that me not being here anymore would effect a lot of people, so I should keep fighting."

Alex and his mom just traveled to Houston, Tex. for the second clinical trial. Alex has a gig coming up on May 19th with local band, Authority Zero, at the Nile Theater.

Social media influencer steps in to help Alex meet Blink 182 drummer

In the weeks since we first reported on Alex's journey, a 20-year-old social media influencer from Australia, Samuel Weidenhofer, found this story.

"I found the FOX 10 article about Alex and how he drummed with Soul Asylum, I believe it was," Weidenhofer said. "When I found the story, I knew in my power, I had to come all the way from Melbourne, Australia to Phoenix to bless him, and give him a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Using his platform, Weidenhofer was able to make a meeting with Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, who is Alex's idol, a reality.

While in the past few days, Alex has been at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in unbearable pain, Alex's parents, along with Weidenhofer, were determined. The meet-and-greet happened on June 14 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, when Blink 182 played to a sold-out crowd.

"It was crazy," Alex said after the concert. "None of it felt real. I was in there with all the famous people. I felt like I was dreaming after going through such hard days in the hospital."

For a few hours, Alex didn’t think about being sick. He was just living. Hanging out with famous faces, FaceTiming with Kourtney Kardashian, Barker’s wife.

The Etheridge family sat front row.

"Tonight, I expected to meet him for five minutes, and we spent over an hour one on one with Travis," Weidenhofer said.  "Thank the Barker family for their amazing involvement, thank you guys for that article, thank Alex's family and thank Alex for being such a fighter."

Around midnight, as his pain medication was wearing off, Alex had to go back to his second home, the hospital. On the morning of June 15, Alex sent a text to Weidenhofer, saying in part, ‘last night was amazing. You have no idea how happy I was.’

Weidenhofer is busy editing his own video of the experience meeting Barker, and he plans to get it out soon to his millions of followers.

Alex's Caringbridge account

(Click here for Alex's GoFundMe)