12:12 2016 Meet Michaela

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December 8, 2016


Today we share an essay written by Michaela Inman, a senior in high school. Michaela had scans recently, and is now four years N.E.D. (no evidence of disease)
 

 
Suddenly. Suddenly everything was gone: her hair, her bone, and her routine. Gone.

May 2011: The little girl who dedicated her life to gymnastics finally earned a spot on the competitive gymnastics team. Learning routines for her first competition grew harder, but she did not give up as she powered through the pain during pre-season.

December 2011: That little girl found out she would never compete in a competitive gymnastics competition, but rather she would be competing for her life.

On December 12, 2011: The words “you have cancer,” mumbled out of her mother's mouth.

January 15, 2012: A few rounds of the most intensive chemotherapy had passed, as her hair started piling up on her pillow. She would lean over her hospital bed to vomit into an emesis basin, as loose hair trickled to the floor. The first gymnastics meet of the season was that night, she got a pass to leave the hospital to cheer on her teammates. Before she left, her dad shaved the remaining clusters of hair dangling from her head.

April 11, 2012: After she finished the first horrendous phase of chemotherapy, she was wheeled back into the operating room told she definitely will never be able to run a marathon, let alone walk again. Without hesitation, she responded “I will run 26.1 miles then.”  Her underlying determination, strength, and perspective kept her going; it will for the rest of her life. After the surgery, the new fibula bone implanted in her body left scars, changing her life in ways she never would have imagined. Mentally, her mind was angry with the idea of not having any control; physically, she could not get comfortable as the pain soared a high 9.9 out of 10; emotionally, she had no way to cope with the machines blaring alarming noises and the doctors taking control of what felt like every aspect in her life.

November 8, 2012: She walked into the pediatric oncology office for her last chemotherapy treatment. By now, she had accepted gymnastics was no longer a part of her life. Her routine became going to the doctor, staying in the hospital, and squeezing in school work to maintain her 4.0, not flipping on the balance beam at the count of five. She eyed the last chemo going into her frail body, then the countdown began. The countdown got to one as the biggest smile appeared across her face, as she whispered to herself “I did it. I beat cancer.”
Years passed, and she remained cancer free, but the lasting effects lingered in her body. Many hospitals later, she was directed to a doctor in Kansas City who diagnosed her with Amplified Pain Syndrome. She pondered the idea of going to Kansas City for three weeks to battle this life-altering pain. Two months later, the decision became clear. She began gathering her school work for her three-week absence, finishing it all within the week before she left.

February 29th, 2016: She started another journey that pushed her beyond limits she thought were humanly impossible. Every day, for three weeks, she was asked what her pain level was, but she never used a 10. She would use a 9, but never a 10, just like the days following the removal of her tumorous bone. On therapy graduation day, as she received her certificate, she whispered to herself, “I did it.”

Today, October 2016: That little girl is no longer little, she has matured into a self-advocating, empathetic, understanding individual. Today, she is one of the faces of Children’s Cancer Connection, a non-profit organization benefiting families troubled by childhood cancer, for the programs she was once a part of but now volunteers for.  Today, two weeks of her summer are dedicated to volunteering at Camp Heart Connection, a camp in Iowa for children or their siblings affected by cancer. Today, she is back to running, but with a distinct, exceptional attitude compared to others her age who complain about simply running two laps around the high school gym for physical education. Today, she has goals higher than she thought would ever be tangible, but she continues to push herself, knowing she is more capable of any limitations that others have set on her. Today, she knows she will walk across stage at commencement with an honors medal and silver cord around her neck to signify her academic and community accomplishments despite the obstacles standing in her way. Today, she plans on becoming the best nurse practitioner specializing in pediatric oncology because her life story opened doors she did not know existed. Today, she realizes the choice of going through unimaginable circumstances was beyond her control, but she wouldn’t change a single part of her journey.

Suddenly. Suddenly everything made her feel more alive: pain free days, milestones, and accomplishments. Alive.
 
Thank you for considering a donation to 1 Million 4 Anna for research for Ewing sarcoma, average age of diagnosis: 15.   https://www.1million4anna.org/donate-1212
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