I’m Michael and I’m a two time leukemia survivor. My story is the force that drives me, fuels my energy, and led me to challenge myself to jump rope 1,000,000 skips in 2020. I’m doing it to bring awareness to blood cancer and raise money for LLS. When I heard, “Michael, we have your blood test results. We’ve arranged for your hospital admittance. Please go there now,” I thought ”This can’t be right”. Two days later on Thanksgiving, I had my diagnosis – hairy cell leukemia.
The next day, I started my chemo treatment for leukemia, seven days of 24 x 7 IV chemo in the hospital. The good news was that the rare form of leukemia I had was treatable. I’d find out later, that wasn’t the case 20 years earlier. When I told my three daughters, ages 9, 14 and 15, they were strong and brave. Through teary eyes, they only had one question for me, “Dad, are you going to die?”. The Dad in me said, “No!”. The voice in my head said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to do everything I possibly can to not only survive, but live.”
I left the hospital about a week later – nauseous, tired, and uncertain. I spent the next ten weeks getting other treatments and tests. What I went through was hard - physically, mentally and emotionally. The harder part was watching how difficult it was for the people around me, especially my wife, our daughters, my parents and my siblings. Part of what got us through it was how we approached it together. We fought through the “why me”, self-pity, and fear with plenty of positive thinking and a “we will” attitude.
My experiences made me a stronger person and brought our family closer together. I vowed to try my best to view every day as the gift that it was. Facing my mortality gave me a sense of calm and inner peace and fueled my desire to help others. If I had to face the possibility of dying, there wasn’t much else I could face that I wouldn’t be able to handle. I had to fight through a recurrence of the leukemia and have chemo treatment again in October 2010, with a similar recovery period. My 2005 experience made that easier to deal with.
I’m excited to say I just celebrated my 10-year leukemia-free mark! I’m so grateful for the work the LLS does. Follow my journey on Instagram @michjyoung