To children battling cancer, your smile was my son’s wish

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To: Children battling cancer

From: Les Friedman

Charity: Mikey's Way

Sponsor: A friend of The Unsealed is donating $50 to Mikey's Way in honor of the first 50 shares of this letter

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To children battling cancer,

You may have never met my son Mikey, but he too knew how it felt to be stuck in the hospital for days on end. He knew how it felt to be pricked with needles and pumped with medicine while other kids are at baseball or soccer practice. Mikey knew what it was like to lose his hair and to experience side effects from treatments. Just like you, Mikey battled cancer. He was diagnosed one day after his 15th birthday.

Les with his son Mikey.

I remember this moment while he was hooked up to a machine for his chemotherapy. At that point, he had relapsed and his future was unclear. We were just living one day at a time. He told me he missed his friends. He told me cancer made him feel isolated from people.

Then, Make-A-Wish Foundation offered Mikey the chance to make a wish of his own. Mikey asked if he could start his own charity, providing electronics to kids like you, kids with cancer. The idea was to make sure you could remain connected to the world beyond your hospital bed. His aunt bought him electronics, which allowed him to see the benefits of these devices.

At the time, The Make-A-Wish Foundation told him starting his own charity wasn’t an option. So instead, he cleverly asked for a shopping spree at Best Buy. However, the shopping spree wasn’t to add to his collection of goods. He bought a bunch of electronics and went to the local hospital where he gave them all away.

That’s how Mikey’s Way, a non-profit that travels the country providing brand new electronics to children with cancer, started.

With the help of the community, Mikey raised the first $250,000. He started Mikey’s Way Days. That’s where we go to hospitals to give you and your peers gifts. Mikey did 17 of those days, personally handing out electronics to children in hospitals around the country.

Mikey founded Mikey’s Way during his own battle with cancer.

Mikey truly was an incredible person. Cancer never defined him, and he would tell you that it doesn’t define you either. He didn’t let cancer stop him from becoming valedictorian of his graduating class, despite missing half of high school.  Cancer didn’t stop him from attending Harvard, where he was studying to be a scientist so he could cure cancer, so he could cure all of you. Despite only being able to go through one full year of college, his research and his writings were published in the Harvard Science Review as well as the Journal of Palliative and Supportive Care. As a child, you might not know what all of that is, but I assure you it means cancer didn’t stop him from working hard to help you in every possible way that he could.

While Mikey was brilliant, I don’t think his intelligence is the most remarkable aspect of his legacy.  Mikey was the baby in our family, the youngest of three. He was treated as such and acted as such. But as he maintained his sense of humor, cancer transformed him into a wise old man. I think it’s that wisdom that’s left an indelible mark on you, the children that receive Mikey’s Way gifts, and every person who knows his story.

Mikey truly embodied the words he spoke as he once said, “The best gift you can get is to give to another person.”

That’s why every time he gave a gift to a child like you, he felt the excitement of his Make-A-Wish coming true all over again.

Mikey truly embodied the words he spoke as he once said, “The best gift you can get is to give to another person.”
Mikey’s Way has given away over 7,000 electronics.

Mikey wanted to instill hope. He wanted to encourage you to never give up, as he never did. Even though Mikey endured his own battle with cancer, he felt his journey wasn’t and shouldn’t be all about him and he wanted to relay that message to others. Plus, Mikey didn’t want to focus on his relapse. Instead, he wanted to devote his attention to positivity, which for him was providing kids like you electronics and seeing the smiles that followed.

Unfortunately, Mikey is no longer here to give you a laptop or an iPod Touch but I am. Every single time I give a gift to one of you, I feel my son next to me.  I love seeing your faces light up when you realize why I am there to see you. It probably brings me as much, if not more joy, to give you a computer or a tablet than it does for you to receive it.

Since Mikey’s Way started in 2005 we have given away more than 7,000 gifts.  Every one of the gifts we offer you is geared toward making sure you stay connected to people outside of the hospital. Each electronic has Skype or Facetime. We want to make sure you can get on wifi and download games and videos.

We have progressed quite a bit since Mikey personally gave out his last gift more than ten years ago, but I am sure he’d say, “Dad, What took you so long? I could have figured out a way to get to 7,000 gifts way faster.”

Les personally gives the gifts to each child.

My son liked to tease me but I know he would be very proud of how we’ve grown and how much we have given to all of you.

Mikey may have never gotten the chance to meet you but he had you in his mind and his heart all along. He never wanted you to be bored or feel alone. And while he succeeded in finding a way to keep you all connected to the world, he also managed to keep all of us, especially me, connected to him.

If you don’t have a new tablet to read this on, let me know.

Les Aka Mikey’s dad

 

Written with Lauren Brill

About the author:

Les Friedman is the father of Michael Friedman. Michael founded Mikey’s Way in 2005 and lost his battle to cancer in 2008.  Les is currently the CEO of Mikey’s Way.

About the sponsor and the charity:

Mikey’s Way is a foundation that helps children cope with the isolation, boredom and fear associated with life-threatening illnesses.  The organization provides children with free electronics that can connect them to their lives outside of the hospital.

A friend of The Unsealed is donating $50 in honor of the first 50 shares of this story. The Unsealed will match the donation if we get 100 new subscribers and 100 new facebook followers by 10/4/19.

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amazing read Lauren

Thank you Reggie this is an amazing story and even though I know the knowledge of growing up in Alabama without my father around was a gift to prepair me in my mission to become a driving force in Change. See I grew up not only without my father but my mother as well for a lot of what was supposed to be my childhood. My mother, Deanne Meeks, was in a terrible accident during my teenage years were I witnessed her being ran over by a black S10 at around 60 mph before church one Sunday morning. Her and I where in mid conversation, she just so happen to find a button on the side walk as we were getting loaded in the vehicle and had walked around to my side to give this button to me because it had come off my brothers paints and she wanted me to keep up with it and remind her to sew it back on after church. The vehicle, parked on the side of the road as most who lived on East Lake Blvd. In Tarrent, AL. did. Although you would think no one could have survived such a violent collision my mother miraculously lived and woke from a medicated coma after 4 months but unfortunately had to have 24/7 care from there on as she had lost much of her memory and was confused about who my brothers and I were. I knew if I too left Alabama I would not Graduate high school if I too made this trip so I was granted the choice to stay after promising my Mother and Grandmother to Graduate a high school if I stayed. I did just that, on my own, after changing schools by myself without any custodial representation. Graduating from Ashville High School in Alabama in 2005 with perfect attendance Senior year, inducted and published within the National Honor Roll book of 2005, taught three elementary school classes through "First Achievement", assisting in resolving issues that were the result from a racial riot that took place in our school parking lot, discovering $73,000 in embezzled funds that our school Administration, particularly the county's School Superintendent, was utilizing to fund his Affair inwhich he was having with our school's Office secretary. The Superintendent before his time at this level in his Career was the Principal of Ashville High School which included a couple of years inwhich I attended. I was also awarded the highest grade in three classes, a scholarship gifted by the Retired Teacher's Association for an essay wrote describing the knowledge I had learned from the hardships inwhich I had been subject too in the few years I had been alive, and the Principal's Honor Award from Coach Whaley our principal at that time. I did this on my own but it would not have been possible without the lessons my Mother and Father had previously taught me and am thankful for every bit of it because I am the person I am today, a man of God, because I was Alone and out of the Darkness I gained a unconditional love for the Lord and now utilize my story of that Sunday morning to describe to others of the faith of a mustard seed. See, no matter what, even the day of this terrible accident, I kept my faith. A kid, who's mother was not only his Rock but his bestfriend as well, kept his faith after witnessing this hardship before church. I did because I knew this was all for a reason and held on through the toughest of times as this was only the beginning of the lesson that was taught. I later asked God in prayer to assure me that I was on the right path since I had kept this faith through everything and He did. I want you to know as good as faith is there is nothing on the intrinsic reward of knowing He is truly real. Have a Blessed evening and always remember to utilize these stories for teaching others and not pity as the hardest of hardships are the best of gifts. Thank you again Reggie for your lesson.

This is Beautiful! Through Unification of Adversity we shall become the closest to the perfection man will ever know. It takes every aspect of a situation to truly understand any situation, quite literally. This is what drives the meaning behind the statement "Knowledge is power". We as humans know power as the light we see. The Bible states. "He is the light". Through Enlightenment of the aspects of each situation we shall reach a level of glory under God inwhich we have never known. Always stand for what you believe because God gave us the gift of knowing Right from Wrong and man's law should reflect this gift in all aspects. Thank you for your message Lauren and have a Blessed day.

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GOOD ADVICE LAUREN!

Thank you Lauren. Yes, we all have to start with the person in the mirror. Your reflections are received with mindfulness and appreciation. I've shared your article on my network. Stay safe and well. IyaSokoya Karade CEO/Owner Athletic Arts Academy NJ LLC Orange, New Jersey

May I encourage everyone of every color or shade, every ethnicity, and every faith (or no faith) to read the book Benjamin Watson wrote after he made such powerful and welcomed comments following the Ferguson, Missouri, killing and riots? Under Our Skin. Read the reviews, search and find the Under Our Skin Forum, it was in 2016, the video can be purchased and it is well worth the time and few dollars to watch. But read the book then give the book to a friend of another color or the same color as you! https://smile.amazon.com/Under-Our-Skin-Getting-Frustrations/dp/149641330X/ref=sr_1_1? When shopping on Smile.Amazon.Com you pay the same but Amazon contributes to your charity of choice (and ParentsUSA hopes you select it, the National Association of Parents, Inc.) David DeLugas, Executive Director, ParentsUSA

Nothing like maintaining a positive outlook! When i need to fight off despair i set goals. It is a great way to fight off negative thoughts and feeling!

Very interesting! Opinion at a later date!

Crazy that this still goes on. I fear for my safety almost all the time. Black or brown males are subject to arrest and violent behavior. I just read a article where a former New York cops claims they had to arrest more people of color to get a promotion. This is sick and I'm tired of living in fear. People are going to start fighting back.

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I think me and your grandpa would have been friends. I been a type 1 diabetic since three years old. I would have said the same thing waking up and seeing two nurses. Do I get to choose. I'm pretty sure I've done that before.

I have learned over my Fifty-Eight years of life, and more specifically over the last 10 that FDR's words about fearing only fear itself ring true; to me, they do, anyway. And, at the same time, how the words of the 23rd Psalm comfort me and my abundant faith in G-d allows me to fear only fear, knowing full well that He is always with me. Growing up in a Non-Orthodox, yet Observant Jewish family nicely brings both together and not only makes me feel more protected but commands me to believe so. You see, I have lived a different kind of life, as we all have to some degree, but mine changes daily. Not that I am ANY BETTER than anyone else, in fact, probably less so... I stray from my stories often. I shouldn't, but since my Stroke in 2012, I have somehow developed some sort of ADD, so please bear with me, the end will justify the means and I will *try* to stick with my story; for you, my readers. I moved my family of the ex-wife and four children Cross-Country in 2002 to be closer to my dad who was turning 75 that year, and while I could not afford both financially as well as mentally to move back to Southern California (where he and my mother lived), I chose the Midbar (Hebrew for Desert) of Arizona. Within just a few short weeks of moving here, I woke up one day with some of the most severe abdominal pain I had ever experienced. I found a local doctor and made an appointment to see him that day. I arrived at the appointment and was ushered into an examination room by their PA (Physician's Assistant), who is supposed to be the same as a Doctor, but not really (?). I was examined and Prescriptions for a Pain Medication and an Antibiotic. They continued to treat me in a like manner for almost six months when I ended up in an Emergency Room, where a CT Scan was performed and Colonoscopy was scheduled. I was then diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized obstruction and abscess in my colon that would require surgical intervention. Surgery was scheduled for two days later, on a Friday in Mid-March 2003. I arrived at the hospital at the designated time, 5:45 am; was admitted to the hospital; told them about ALL my allergies (including a BIG ONE, an allergy to a particular anesthetic agent), and taken to a room where I was put into one of those awful gowns and told that they'd be "right back" to take me to surgery. They promptly came back at 10:30 in the morning and took me to yet another room... to wait some more. At 11:45 the Anesthesiologist came in to talk with me. He informed me that he was going to use Propofol for my induction and that he was planning on using the EXACT ANESTHESIA TO WHICH I AM ALLERGIC to maintain me through surgery! "NOT ON ME, YOU'RE NOT", I exclaimed! "I'M ALLERGIC!!!" On my wrist sat a red band that clearly said ALLERGIES: CEVOFLURAINE. I then proceeded to give him a list of anesthetic agents that I knew to be safe. He tapped me on the knee and said: Okay, Smart guy, put yourself to sleep and quickly left the room. I awoke from the anesthesia on the following Wednesday evening. In addition to the NINE small incisions from various attempts to perform the procedure of removing 18" of my diseased colon through a scope, I also had one 6" cut in my belly that began around my navel and continued to just above my groin. I also began experiencing severe shortness of breath. The staples were ripped out of my skin by the Butcher Surgeon two weeks later, but my breathing difficulties continued. After being examined by one doctor after another, I finally decided to be examined by The Mayo Clinic. Over a ten-day to 2 week period, I was examined by multiple physicians, underwent numerous tests and procedures and was finally ready for my Report Appointment. I would learn the results of all of the tests and procedures and hopefully have a clear diagnosis and prognosis. The verdict had come in. Diagnosis: Terminal COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Causation: Bacterial Pneumonia due to Malignant Hyperthermia caused by induction of Detrimental Anesthesia Prognosis: 5% chance of Five-Year Survival I then took my report to a highly regarded Pulmonologist for Follow-Up Care, but not before enrolling in Rabbinical School in New York City. I had, (since age ten) always wanted to be a Rabbi. It was now or never. On the advice of the Pulmonologist, I began taking Prednisone (a Steroid) that would open up my Bronchioles and make it easier to breathe. The normal dosage for a man who is 5'9" and weighs 150 pounds (before I got sick, I weighed 174 pounds, all muscle, by the way) is <100mg per day. My STARTING dose was 100mg THREE TIMES a DAY. the dosage was increased every few months for the following THREE YEARS, when, on Sunday, September 9, 2007, at the weight of 340 Pounds (the Steroids had been increased to 250mg Four Times a day), I collapsed and at Mayo Hospital, was intubated where my organs began failing. Two nights later, on the First Night of Rosh haShana, the Jewish New Year, and while being mechanically ventilated, I went into Full Blown Total System Failure, and suffered a Cardiac Arrest for 14 minutes, followed by a Coma of several weeks duration. During my Coma, I felt as if I was in a box. The box had four dirt walls and smelled like the Morning Dew. In the upper right corner of the box sat a red square with a white X inside of it. "If only I could click on that X, I might stop this program", I thought to myself, but I could not move; I could not stand; could not reach, and could not scream for help. I lay in this place crying out in fear for what seemed like days and weeks and months. Suddenly, my cries were replaced by Psalms. I was reciting Psalms, some of which I had never even read before! And the Psalms turned into Prayers; The Kol Nidre, chanted at the beginning of our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; every other prayer recited on this Holy of all Holy Days; the Prayers for the Sukkot Holidays that follow the next week and the Readings for every single Torah Portion of the year. I somehow knew them all. By heart. Without hesitation of memory and obviously without any text to look at. I kept reading and chanting day and night; night and day and resting in between. Really resting. Sleeping... until one day, I opened up my eyes to see my beautiful son Zac sitting at my side on my bed. Covering the holes in my throat and on the side of my neck, I managed to spit out "C'était le rêve de dix minutes le plus étrange que j'aie jamais eu"! I told my son that was the weirdest ten-minute dream that I have ever had in FRENCH, my first language and native tongue. He then told me that it had been over two months, and I was in a Hospice Facility. The night before, I had begun to breathe on my own a minute or so after being disconnected from the machines that had sustained my organs since September. A few days later I was wheeled to an ambulance outside to be transported to the truly amazing HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Scottsdale. The sun kissed my face as I felt like I was pulled up into a body of love. It spoke. In Hebrew: Don't worry, it said. "You and I are going to be okay". I spent the next six weeks learning to do things like eating and holding a pencil; how to shower and dress. I learned how to return to life. Six weeks after leaving HealthSouth, my dad died. In July 2018, my mom joined him. I have had many trials and tribulations over these last twelve years. A Stroke in 2012 took my ability to project my voice loudly; I've been hospitalized many times and know how very precious time is. I do not live for today, rather, I live for tomorrow. I do everything I can do today to help others, and pray that I am again awakened tomorrow to do more good. And if so, great! And if not; if G-d decides to take me tonight, I will hang out with my parents and loved ones forever. I win either way. President Roosevelt was right to believe in only fearing fear. Psalm 23 is even more so, as Faith follows all of us.

Funny my mom passed in 1991 as a 13 year old it was hard but she was much more then beauty. She was a fighter from the beginning and I will never be able to explain her impact. It shows you came from a strong famiy and I'm glad you had both a mom and dad because a lot of people don't. I pray your truth can make a difference

This is trying to scare us with more misinformation then actual information but thank you for giving us your reality. I like it a lot.and people just wash your hand like you should be doing anyway 😂

Great discussion, as well as some interesting numbers which I'm not sure are meant to calm us, or install even more fear. I have many of your same concerns. Just yesterday I scheduled a work trip to Miami for late next week, but am unsure if it will happen or not. And while i say or act like i'm not concerned, sub-consciously, i am quite sure it is weighing on my mind each time i cough, or sneeze, or feel "a little warm", or if someone around me does. One of the biggest fears i have is that with all of the media coverage and the additional testing becoming available, the numbers are sure to skyrocket, and this is going to really set some people off. Our country is going to go absolutely bonkers . We are all guilty of taking limited amounts of information and either talking about it like an expert, or completely overreacting. Here's hoping that the number stat to level out, and then drop. Lets hope that the American people can follow simple suggestions. Lets hope that countries from around the world can work together to come up with a viable plan to slow this train down. And last but not least, lets hope our politicians can come together to provide our country guidance as we all try to get through this. Lets hope they can forget about the presidential race for just a minute to remember what their job really is; to serve the American people. And now is their time to really step up and lead by example.

Lauren, like you I have to balance my fear and confusion. I work directly with the public and I have an immune system that is partially suppressed as a by product of treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I fear for my Father the most as his body is much weaker than even mine. I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday just to learn three people were positively diagnosed on Monday in Cuyahoga county. You aren't alone in that fear. I think that we must turn to hope to keep us in this trying time. We have to...

Terry, As a man who has lived and breathed baseball, your letter was an absolute joy for me to read. What young boy wouldn't want to be in the clubhouse with his Dad? During your time as manager I've been to quite a few games in Cleveland. None though were as special as July 12th 2014. That was the day I celebrated my 30th birthday. Though the day centered around my birthday it saw me doing something for someone else. It was the day I took my Father to the very first professional sports game in his 59 years of life at the time. It was so touching the certificate that he got from the wonderful folks at Guest Services. And although the home team lost to the White Sox that day, it will always remain one of the best days in my heart. Letters like yours only serve to renew my love for the game of baseball. Thanks for sharing it with the little boy still inside of me wanting to throw that 0-2 curveball to the best hitter in the league.

[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]

Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.

Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine

You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)

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Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?

So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.