This post is long overdue. I am attempting to rewrite from memory as I erased the original copy from my iPad.
So here goes…A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to ply my photographic trade with the Mikey’s Way Foundation. This foundation was started by Mikey who while hospitalized and bored was referred to Make-A-Wish. Mikey became easily frustrated by the endless hours lying in bed as the medication meant to save his life dripped into his veins seeking out the cancer cells which sought to overtake Mikey’s fragile body. Mikey told his dad, “If cancer doesn’t kill me, daytime television will.”
Mikey’s wish was to go on a shopping spree. Mikey went to a local electronics store and spent $5K on electronics with the sole intention of returning to Roswell Park Cancer Hospital to give the electronics away. Mikey desired an opportunity to relieve the painful boredom of the other patients and began his own foundation.
Amazing! What is even more amazing about Mikey was he was 17 years old when he began his foundation.
Enough from me. I was so inspired by Mikey I felt it important to share with you a blog post written by Mikey. This post has been identified as “possibly one of Michael’s most insightful pieces.”
Execute at Will
If you were condemned to an early death, would you sleep? Would you waste precious moments of human experience to indulge the guilty pleasures of dreams? If changing tides of chance crashed down upon you, would you wade submissively in their current? Or would you fight to reach golden sand? Between life and death, between battle and surrender, between hope and truth, there lies a choice. And the choice is ours to make.
My fight began as if out of a biblical whirlwind. The news rained on the forty days and forty nights of my worst fantasies. It was not conveyed by a burning bush, or by a disciple of God, but by a doctor – cancer. And so I chose not to wade, but to fight. Scarcely does the world see such silent battles, as if fought completely under the ocean of the soul. I submerged myself in this quest, whose purpose was survival, evasion, and securing that which my peers already had unknowingly: the future.
There was an old me. He got cancer and is no longer with us. But it was not cancer alone that put him to rest. It was my conscious choice. I needed to reinvent myself, to garner the tools that would sustain me through such trying times. The new me was born from a womb of ordeal, bred with the sole purpose of survival. I fought the cancer with the most potent protocols practiced by medicine: high dose chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. But I also fought with humor. I realized early on that you only have one life, one chance to be happy. So, while other patients lied sick in bed, I chased family around the halls with my I.V. pole. I laughed despite, or perhaps in spite of, the grave scene. Discolored liquids march down clear, thin tubes. They plunge from the incessant drip, drip, drip of the pump and swoop back up to nestle deep in my chest. The intimate smell of plastic; the penetrating white fluorescent lighting reflecting off taupe and colorless tile; the sterile, lemon scented air dry enough to discharge blood from the nostrils. And the impending possibility of failure as unpleasant, painful points pound away at you until you are too tender to attest, like meat being cured. All of these things could not falter my spirit. While others dreaded their fate and cursed their maker, I joked about the finer points of my circumstance. What luck gets a 1 in 2 million cancer anyway?
While others shuddered at the specific details of their disease, I seized it as an opportunity to learn. My thirst for knowledge could not be torn asunder by cancer. I constantly questioned the biology and science of my disease from the specific transmutation of the Wilm’s tumor gene and theEwing’s gene, to the specific pathway with which certain chemos interfere with cell reproduction. And I found a calling in oncology.
The submerged battle rages on. I come to the surface for air just long enough to retain the strength to continue. The new me is equipped with unique tools of seeing opportunities of humor and knowledge where others see only despair. That is my choice. And one fine day I will pick myself up out of the water, the foolish escapades of the past washed away, but still toting along my tools.
When you rise in the morning think not of the twinges of pain in your back. Think not of the generalized desire to not face the world despite all of its glory. Think not about the difficulties which face all of us everyday, instead think of the power you have within you to make changes to your life. You have the power to make these changes!