‘It was the middle of the night when I got this call. I sat in the basement, frozen and in shock. Please tell me this is just some virus that will go away next week.’

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“It was September. All four of our children had just returned back to school. Our oldest now a 5th grade, our 2nd a 1st grader, Mikah started Transitional Kindergarten and our baby girl was now in Preschool a few days a week. It was a great start to the school year. Our kids all had amazing teachers and loved going to school. Around the same time that school started, we received news that my Farmor (Swedish Grandma) was very weak and doctors were telling my Uncle that they didn’t know how much longer she would live. My parents, our daughter and I decided to fly to Sweden to see her for what may be our last time. Although she hasn’t been able to leave her room the entire time we were there, we shared precious memories and were able to tell her how much we loved her and thanked her for being such a wonderful Mom/Grandma/Great-Grandma.

About a week into my visit to Sweden, my husband called me to tell me he was concerned for our four-year-old son Mikah. Since I had left for Sweden my husband, who is a Firefighter/Paramedic, noticed things with Mikah were off. He would get home from school and immediately fall asleep. He would collapse from exhaustion after playing at the park. All things that were not normal for our very active boy but also not anything that made us sure something was wrong because of his new school schedule.

Before l had left for Sweden, we had also noticed that Mikah’s skin seemed pale at nighttime. We had also noticed that he has a bruise on his back from one of his Nerf gun battles with his older brothers that wasn’t going away. Nothing crazy, nothing that made us extremely worried at the time.

Little boy smiling as he stands in blue karate outfit
Courtesy Sarah Carney

On September 13th, Michael said that Mikah was hard to wake up for school and when he finally did wake up, he said he wasn’t feeling well. He thought he was going to throw up but didn’t and then wanted breakfast. After breakfast he was feeling better and wanted to go to school. Michael asked Mikah’s teacher to keep an eye on him. At pick-up time, Mikah’s teacher confirmed what Michael was feeling. Something was off. She had said he asked to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance, he didn’t want to eat his snack, and he didn’t want to play with any of his friends during recess. It was then that Michael decided he needed to take Mikah to his Pediatrician.  On the drive to the Pediatrician he felt the urge to go directly to the hospital. He called and spoke to some of his friends who work in the emergency room to ask them their thoughts about what was going on. They advised him that it would be best to come straight to the hospital. At the ER, Mikah’s lab work was taken and the Doctors informed Michael that there was something wrong. His white and red blood cells and platelets were off. They wouldn’t say what they thought it was but that Mikah would need to be transferred to a Children’s Hospital for an exact diagnosis. Michael called to tell me that they would be transferring Mikah by ambulance to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital as soon as an ambulance arrived. It was the middle of the night in Sweden when I got this call. I sat in the basement of my grandmother’s home frozen and in shock. Please tell me this is just some type of virus that will go away next week was all I could pray.

At the Children’s Hospital, more labs were taken, and a bone marrow test ordered for Mikah. The morning of September 14th, 2018, the doctor handed Michael a note with the words ‘B-Lymphoblatic Leukemia’ (also known as B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL). Also, the words ‘Treatment 3 years, Induction 1st 28 days and BM 5% Leukemia’ were written on the paper.

‘Your son has cancer.’

These are the four words that previously had only haunted my darkest thoughts. ‘How could this be? He’s a perfect and happy 4-year-old. He has done nothing to deserve this. Why him? Why Jesus have you allowed this to happen to Mikah?’

Little boy with cancer sits smiling at counter with drink with whip cream
Courtesy Sarah Carney

The doctor informed Michael that 91% of Mikah’s bone marrow was Leukemia and that they would have to start Chemotherapy the next day to begin treatment. The goal in the next 28 days of Induction would be to reduce the Leukemia to less than 5% and that as a boy, the treatment phase is 3 1/2 years long. After the 28 days another Bone Marrow test would be taken to see if treatment was working.

Michael had to Facetime me on the other side of the world to tell me the news. I’ve never experienced a feeling like I did in that moment. My entire body went numb and then I couldn’t stop shaking. I just wanted to hold my little boy. I wanted to leave Sweden that very next day but there were 3 days left until our scheduled flight. It was decided it would be best for me to just stay and fly back to California with my dad and daughter as scheduled.  The first seven days of my trip to Sweden had flown by and the last 3 days felt like an eternity. When the day arrived that we would leave Sweden, I had to say my goodbyes to my precious Farmor. It turned out to be the last time I would see her on this earth as she passed away about a week later. Had I known this would have happened to Mikah while I was gone, I would have never gone to Sweden so despite it all, I am so thankful for the chance to say goodbye to my Grandmother.

When I finally got the chance to hold Mikah again, he was just kind of a shell of the boy I left at home. The steroids and medications he was being pumped with had made him emotionless one moment and then he would have a rage like I had never seen before the next moment. Now I know that it was the steroids that had made him that way. He didn’t smile or laugh for the entire Induction Phase. I thought I had lost my boy. We were able to return home from the hospital after about 10 days. At home he slept or ate and occasionally he would want to color or play with this Legos. On October 18th, we got the news that treatment was working and that the Leukemia in Mikah’s Bone Marrow was below 0.1%. Treatment as scheduled would continue. Mikah has regular trips to the hospital clinic to receive chemotherapy and he also takes daily medication at home.

Little boy with cancer lays in hospital bed holding parent's hand
Courtesy Sarah Carney
Little boy with cancer sits in bed without shirt on
Courtesy Sarah Carney

These last four months have been a bit of a blur but have also felt like an eternity. We are only in month 5 out of potentially 42+ months of treatment but Mikah is strong. He is brave. He has made me brave and strong. When I just want to crawl under a blanket and give up, his sweet smile and laughter help me keep going. I am learning that children who go through something like this are truly incredible. They are wise beyond their years and I see that God is using Mikah in ways I could have never imagined. We have been so blessed by a community of friends, family and strangers who have come along side us to lift us up when we didn’t think we could do it. We have been so loved on and cared for that I have told several people that although would never wish this on anyone, I wish everyone could feel the love that has been given to us.

Fighter pilot sitting in plane holding up piece of paper that says, "Love 4 Micah"
Courtesy Sarah Carney

Thank you for your prayers and continued support for our Mighty Mikah. He still has a long road ahead of him, but I have no doubt that God is using him to touch the lives of people all over the world.

‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11″

Husband and wife sit on curb with their four children, one of which has cancer
Courtesy Sarah Carney

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sarah Carney. Follow Sarah on Instagram hereSubmit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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