Since Michael was small he has struggled with Kidney Disease. At a young age Mike had spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. At the age of 5 Michael was flown to Upstate Medical Center due to a renal blockage, where he spent the next 3 months. Michael had several surgeries to save his good kidney and at that time we learned that Michael only had one functioning kidney. Continuous treatment and care was difficult for Mike as a child because we were moved from foster home to foster home. Once we were placed into a stable home Michael started to receive the care and treatment he should. Michael fought other things that went along with his renal problems, such as High blood pressure and thyroid problems. Michael had his parathyroid removed in hopes that this would help some of his problems. Then at the age of 16 the doctors thought that removing his non-functioning kidney it would resolve his high blood pressure. When Michael’s kidney was removed it caused him to go into complete renal failure. A few more surgeries ahead to get Michael prepared for dialysis and from there would begin another long journey for Michael as he was never placed on a transplant list. At the age of 26 Michael started to go through the testing process to see if his mother could be a kidney donor. Just when we learned that she was a match, we also learned that Michael had Malignant Melanoma and now would have to wait to be cancer free for at least one year before looking into receiving a kidney transplant.
Michael was originally diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma April 2014. Body scans came back negative for any other cancer, and we were thrilled. October 2014 Michael discovered a lump under his right arm, but below the primary site of cancer. When consulting his oncologist a few more lumps were noted. Biopsies confirmed that his Melanoma had returned. Due to Michael’s renal failure we learned that treatment would be limited. The first treatment that was attempted, Michael ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks due to an infection in his intestines and around his heart. Once Michael got out of the hospital he started yet another treatment, which seemed to be better for Michael. Fast forwarding time, Michael went through two separate treatments and a couple blood transfusions. Michael finished two cycles of immunotherapy, but his PET scan of his body showed that the treatments had not been as effective as we would have liked it to be. Michael’s cancer had grown and spread in the same general area, so we met with a surgical oncologist at Roswell and decided surgery was Michael’s only option. Michael had his surgery, it was a long 7 hour surgery, but very successful. Michael was sent home with two Jackson prat drains that I helped cared for over several weeks. Michael was officially cancer free and now on the road to recovery.
Michael was the kind of person that wanted to change things for the better for others. He was always looking for some way to give back to people who didn’t have much. Full of life and dreams Michael started to plan his future after he was in remission. He started to attend charity events, and became more involved with community events as he started to regain his strength. The one thing that Michael was good at was smiling regardless of how he felt. His motto on life was “a smile can always make things better and I have no other choice, because I want to live my life!” If anything I can say, Michael definitely lived his life.
March 9th, 2017 Michael signed a new lease for his apartment and the joy this brought to Michael was unexplainable. Then March 15th, 2017 Michael passed away suddenly. Leaving a lasting impression on so many people, many were touched by this news. To write Michael’s story is so hard to put on paper, because his fight was more than just his health issues. Michael’s fight was about living life to the fullest despite his health issues.