by John, Nancy, Mike and Emma Johnston
On April 18, 2011, we took our 13 year-old son Mike to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minneosta in St Paul. That same day, he began receiving treatment from Children’s. It turned out that Mike had a cancerous Germinoma tumor that was blocking the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. The fluid was building up in his skull, putting pressure on his brain, and causing him to have tremors and headaches. As we began Mike’s cancer journey, it became obvious to our family that Children’s treated not only the patient, but the entire family. Every staff member that came into our room introduced themselves to all of us, including Mike's 7 year-old sister Emma. We felt secure with the staff sinc e they all made time for us and made us feel like we were their only patients at that moment.
Throughout Mike’s treatment, several important events were planned. The first was American Cancer Society Relay for Life in White Bear Lake, MN. Mike was one of the featured speakers. The oncology team scheduled chemotherapy and other appointments to make this special event possible for Mike and our family. The second major event for Mike that summer was his junior high school trip to Washington DC. This was a can’t-miss since the teacher in charge was Mike’s favorite teacher, and helped Mike get passionate about history. Mike enjoyed the monuments, the museums and the capital and was able to take it all in even though his blood counts were low.
Throughout our family’s journey with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota we all felt blessed to have this institution charged with our son’s care. We felt so proud to have Children’s in our life that our family made a commitment to give back. Mike is now a member of the Youth Advisory Council and both parents are active in the Families as Volunteers program.
All of this led to the opportunity for our family to journey to Washington, DC to advocate on behalf of Children’s Minnesota for Family Advocacy Day. We are all very excited for this opportunity to be able to give back. We even accepted this opportunity knowing that we would be travelling on Emma’s 9th birthday. We can hardly wait to see the sites as a family and meet many wonderful people that have also been touched by children’s hospitals around the county. See you in DC!