Age: 14 Diagnosis: Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Favorite Things: engineering, skiing, and computers Meet Isaac, an easy-going…
Diagnosis: B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Favorite Things: video games, spending time with his dog, and experimenting in the kitchen, with guacamole as his specialty
Meet Micaiah, a remarkably talented 14-year-old artist who enjoys sketching anime and has recently delved into realistic pencil drawings. His aunt, Joanna, describes him as thoughtful and wise beyond his years, all while maintaining his playful and goofy side. In addition to what he calls his “doodle drawings,” Micaiah loves playing video games, spending time with his dog, and experimenting in the kitchen, with guacamole as his specialty.
During the summer of 2023, as Micaiah began his first job and attended a tennis camp, his family noticed a series of minor yet unusual changes in him. Despite the summer heat, he complained about feeling cold, experienced frequent stomach upsets, and showed little appetite. Joanna remembers suggesting a visit to one of his favorite restaurants after tennis practice, only to have him decline—something no teenager rejects after a strenuous camp. There were also instances when she had to pull over her car due to his unexpected nausea. Christin, Micaiah’s mom, raised her concerns about these changes during a routine well check, leading the pediatrician to order tests to screen for any underlying factors contributing to these changes.
Once the test results came back, Micaiah’s family was urgently instructed to take him to the Children’s Wisconsin Emergency Department. The doctors were concerned about a potential gastrointestinal complication, leading to additional tests before his discharge. Later that night, the family received a phone call from an oncologist—not the specialist his family was expecting to hear from. She explained that blasts had been found in Micaiah’s blood and more advanced testing would be necessary to confirm their suspicions of a potential cancer diagnosis.
The following Monday, Micaiah was brought back to the hospital for a bone marrow aspiration—a procedure for extracting liquid bone marrow from the back of the pelvic bone using a fine needle. The aspiration results confirmed that Micaiah had B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (B-cell ALL). Though these first few days were unbelievably scary for the family, they were incredibly grateful that the disease was detected early. Micaiah’s family knew the road ahead would be long and challenging for him, but they chose to move forward with hope, steadfast in their faith, embracing the support of their tightly knit family.
Micaiah had his port placed and immediately started Induction, the most intense round of chemotherapy he has faced so far. In the latter part of that initial month, he grappled with significant weakness and experienced a few falls. During this time, he retreated inward, feeling completely drained from the persistent nausea, uncomfortable swelling caused by steroids, and difficulty sleeping. Despite these challenges, Micaiah drew upon his inner strength, exhibiting an incredibly positive attitude and choosing to take things in stride.
Induction was followed by Consolidation, requiring Micaiah to be at the hospital four times per week for shots and lumbar punctures. In the current third phase, he is facing four 4-day hospitalizations every other week for two months. Although the most intense initial phases of treatment are nearing completion, the journey is far from over, with the average length of ALL treatment spanning 2-3 years. Micaiah looks forward to ringing the bell, symbolizing the conclusion of his treatment, in January 2026.
Regrettably, Micaiah is unable to attend his first year of high school and is instead taking online classes due to a compromised immune system from treatment. However, he is handling this disappointment with remarkable resilience, keeping a long-term perspective in mind. Joanna is pleased that Micaiah remains motivated to stay on track with his online schooling and has found value in honing his drawing skills during his free time.
Fortunately, Micaiah is surrounded by an incredibly supportive family. Christin, his mom, is working remotely to be by Micaiah’s side; Willie Jones, Micaiah’s dad, has been an exceptional source of emotional support for his son; and Micaiah’s aunties and brothers frequently visit him, providing breaks for his parents when needed. Despite the challenges of this experience, it has underscored the value of family, bringing them together in a powerful and unifying way.
Micaiah’s family has enjoyed organizing celebrations to mark the completion of each phase of treatment. Following Induction, Micaiah had a painting party with his family and school friends who brought gifts, including a new art desk. Seeing his profound joy after such a challenging period was incredibly heartwarming for his family. After the second phase of treatment, Micaiah’s Aunt Felicia arranged a private showing of the new Hunger Games film in a rented movie theater, complete with popcorn, soda and all his closest friends and family. A laser tag party is planned for his upcoming birthday, and Joanna is crafting her own ideas for a celebration at the end of Micaiah’s third phase. A family trip is in the works for late spring when Micaiah enters Maintenance, a less rigorous phase of treatment. Micaiah is leaning towards a tropical island cruise—TBD. Joana emphasized that “even in the darkness of this disease, there can be bright points, and that’s what you hold onto.” It’s these moments of unbridled celebration and the steadfast support of his family that have propelled Micaiah forward on the toughest of days.
Acknowledging the toll this disease has taken, Joanna expressed her sincere hope for Micaiah to emerge from this experience with his spirit intact, preserving his spark and not letting it be dimmed by the challenges he’s faced. When he returns to school, she hopes he’ll seamlessly reintegrate into the rhythm of things, finding his way and passionately pursuing his interests, particularly in art.
May this difficult time soon become a distant memory for Micaiah and his family. May they cherish the bright points of celebration and look back on the hardships with pride in Micaiah’s resilience and gratitude for the strength and unity of their family.
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