I met Mitchell when he was just 17 months old. He was really cute. I was being interviewed by Mitchell’s mom, Kari for a nanny position. It was the summer. I was in the midst of my teaching degree at Eastern Washington University. I myself was young… er… I meant “younger,” maybe 22 years old. (smiling) I got the job. Mitchman, his nickname back then, was a great little kid. I only nannied for the Carbon family for about 6 months, but at times it felt like a home away from home. Kari was also expecting their second child, Mallory. I stayed connected thereafter to meet Mallory later, who was so precious!
But like what often happens in life, people drift apart.
Mitchell had been diagnosed with high risk leukemia or PH+ALL in 2011. Immediately, I was glued to the updates on Facebook. Whenever an update was posted, I stopped everything and read the news.
Even though it had been over 10 years since I’d had any real connection to the Carbon’s, Bradley, my son, reminded me so much of Mitchell at that young age. And now as a mother myself, these real life stories seemed all the more gut-wrenching to learn about.
My heart ached for this family.
There were no words.
I would read about it… and cry. I would “like” the updates on Facebook in support… and cry. I would pray about it… and cry. As I type these words…. I cry.
Here I was stressing about my own life, which was what… the drama of work… the realities of home and family… stressing about the pasta calories I ate the night before... It seemed rather silly.
I can’t even begin to tell the story of his life the past several years. The Carbon’s have been to hell and back… several several times.
But through all of this… Mitchell is an inspiration in my life. On some pretty tough days, I’ve had to get a grip and remind myself of what really matters. Seeing his true grit, strength, utter determination has made me a better person.
“After all the years of failed treatment-gallons of chemotherapy, the lifetime limit of radiation, hundreds of days in the hospital, thousands of needle sticks, 50 plus lumbar punctures, many surgeries, 6 months at Seattle Children’s that resulted in a failed transplant, hundreds of transfusions and then relapse for a fourth time and the unimaginable pain that cancer brings. He was told that we can’t cure you but we can keep you comfortable.” -Rob, Mitchell’s dad
Mitchell took his battle with cancer to a new level.
He is the first child EVER to be treated with CNS3 disease with CART19 cells in the CHOP trial. Now that’s a whole lot of complicated words… but basically they fought cancer with cancer.
“When Dr. Grupp came to us before the T-Cell procedure and said he had no idea what this would do to Mitchell, if he would survive it, that his team had been truly afraid to give this treatment to anyone with advanced disease in the brain, in true Mitchell form he looked up at Dr. Grupp and said, “No matter what happens I want you to use my data for other kids in the future.” Physically and emotionally shaken by Mitch’s response, Dr. Grupp composed himself and told Mitchell in all his years he had never heard that from any patient, and that first and foremost we are here to save your life no matter what the science demands.” – Rob, Mitchel’s dad
And the best part…. Mitchell WON!
“Against all odds, Mitchell has risen up through ashes… again! I will get right to the point: There is no cancer to be detected in any of his results: All of the areas on his brain MRI with disease are all resolved. NORMAL. Cancer GONE. No leukemia in this blood, his marrow or his spinal fluid. His is still without B-Cells – which tells us his CART cells are still active! I cannot state how miraculous this is! So this is EPIC as once leukemia spreads from the spinal fluid to inside the brain, there are no other curative treatment options. We took a huge leap of faith, always envisioning that this was possible, but fully understanding that this had not been done before. Getting him to this trial required challenging the system with everything we had: Our own doctors, the team at CHOP, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, the FDA, political leadership.
Mitchell’s is a story of never giving up.” – Rob, Mitchell’s dad
Yesterday, as I took a few moments to catch up on Facebook, I read a post from Mitchell’s dad. He shared the incredible news of Mitch’s three month follow up from the CART treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In that moment, I knew. I knew I would donate any funds my business would allow to this incredible cause.
In honor of Mitchell’s story, I have decided a portion of all sales generated this holiday season will be donated to The Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Western Washington. I can think of no better way to honor this celebration of Mitchell’s selfless endurance to fight, fight, fight!
More specifically, if First & Bloom sells 100 arrangements this holiday season, $1,000 will be donated to this amazing organization. I am so excited to reach this goal!
I hope you will support this cause and help other children beat cancer!
You are AMAZING!
All of the stories, images, thoughts and options are from First & Bloom who was granted permission from the Carbon Family to share.