Mike is an amazing 14-year-old with an equally amazing attitude towards life. He loves engineering, magic tricks, listening to music, and playing trumpet in a jazz band.
Mike suffered from debilitating headaches for more than a year. His family attempted to get appointments with psychologists and neurologists but were faced with long wait times. When Mike experienced numbness in his tongue and difficulty walking, his family took him to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. He was still waiting for those specialist appointments. In April 2011, he underwent brain surgery and chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. To help ensure the most effective treatment with the least side effects the treatment team also sent Mike to Indiana for proton beam radiation therapy, which delivers a high dose, highly localized radiation.
“Had we visited the neurology department earlier, I’m confident they would have seen the mass forming,” explains his dad John Johnston. “And while the treatment likely would have been the same, Mike would have suffered far less. He was lucky, and thanks to specialized care, he’s now cancer free. Sadly, for millions of other children waiting for care, the outcome may be very different.”
Today, Mike has had two clean post-treatment checkups. He is now a healthy teenage boy who enjoys participating in groups such as the National Junior Honor Society, Relay For Life, and the Youth Advisory Council at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.