The title of today’s post is an insightful phrase from an insightful young man who lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, nearly two years after being diagnosed with stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare pediatric muscle cancer affecting only 350 children a year.
On June 15th, John spoke with Miles Levin for a story aired on the Situation Room. Here is a transcript of that interview:
KING: We’ve been following the story of Miles Levin, a remarkable young man whose blog about his battle with cancer has thousands of devoted readers, many of who say he has changed their lives. This spring was tough for miles. His doctors weren’t sure he would live long enough to graduate from his Michigan high school or attend his senior prom. But Miles rallied and marked both of those milestones. We reported that part of his story earlier this week. Tonight, there is more. Miles was in New York this week to attend a second graduation ceremony. This one, as you see there, for teenage patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering, a hospital where miles has spent so much time. Here’s what he wrote in his blog.
“This ceremony will be special in a different way, as everyone there is aware, they could very well be dead by now. But they’re still alive to experience this milestone. Healthy kids take that part for granted.”
After the ceremonies, Miles did us the pleasure and honor of stopping by 360 and we talked about all that he’s accomplished this month.
KING: Miles, in your blog you had written you were worried you wouldn’t make it to your graduation, but you did make it. Tell us some of the highlights.
MILES LEVIN, CANCER PATIENT: I had this miraculous turn around. It couldn’t walk. It really looked like I wasn’t going to be able to be at my prom or my graduation. I made it to prom, I was able to dance. Graduation night, lucky enough, I was honored to be the student speaker alongside Bob Woodruff, who was a keynote. And that was a really meaningful experience to me, because the awareness that I might not be there, that I so easily might not have been there is so strong.
KING: And boil down for our viewers what you think is most important message you delivered to your classmates in that speech?
LEVIN: I wanted them to consider what responsibility comes with being a privileged person. If you’re given the long end of the stick, as I referred to it, what duty you have to those less fortunate. And I didn’t tell them you have to do anything, but it’s something that I wanted them to consider.
KING: It’s clearly that you view these things as gifts, being able to make your graduation, speak at your graduation. You just mentioned dancing at the prom. Was it everything you hoped it would be?
LEVIN: It really was, and it was so much sweeter for all the chemotherapy I had to go through a week before to be feeling well enough for it.
KING: I want you to talk about how you think blogging has helped you cope with cancer. And as you do so I want to read a line that struck me in reviewing some of the things you put in your blog.
“Dying is not what scares me, it’s dying and having had no impact. I know a lot of eyes are watching me suffer and win or lose, this is my time for impact.”
Why is that so important to you?
LEVIN: Why is it so important to me? It’s my legacy. I’m probably not going to have a profession or a family or anything else so people will remember me by this is probably it right here. And I wanted to make my time count for something. The care pages helped me in a lot of ways. One, simply writing about what I’m going through and letting that out and also from what I’m told, helping other people is really a source of strength for me and a motivator to keep going. When otherwise I might not feel like keeping on.
KING: What does that mean to you when people tell you you’ve been a great inspiration to them?
LEVIN: It’s a validation of everything I’ve tried to do in my life.
KING: And you’ve overcome, Miles, so many obstacles. You’re receiving chemotherapy treatment. Tell us about the prognosis and what it is the doctors tell you right now?
LEVIN: The prognosis isn’t too good. When people relapse with my cancer in my stage, up until this point, there’s been no hope. There are a whole new generation of cancer treatment therapies that are about to come out. So really I’m just trying to hang on for enough time to be able to receive those treatments. But really it’s a grim situation.
KING: Well, Miles, we appreciate your time today. You’re certainly an inspiration and we hope that there is better days, some miracle for you lying ahead. And thanks so much for joining us and sharing your inspirational thoughts today.
LEVIN: Thank you so much.
KING: Thank you. A remarkable young man and a treat to meet him.
I am sure one would agree upon reading “Dying is not what scares me, it’s dying and having had no impact. I know a lot of eyes are watching me suffer and win or lose, this is my time for impact” that he has done exactly just that.
Our regular screencap contributor, Kitten, has sent over some new pictures. The first are of John at the Iowa State Fair:
John says that at the fair, they also fry oreos, snickers, bananas and… porkchops!
Next is John back in The Situation Room yesterday:
And, just because we can’t seem to let go of the fried food fascination, here are some more pictures. Have a good day everyone!
How about fried Oreos?
Here are some fried Snickers-on-a-stick!
And oh yes, I forgot to mention… fried pickles!
(I had them once at a Whistle Stop railroad cafe in Spring, Texas.)