Michael Toshio Miyamoto was born on December 12, 1993 at what was then the Whittier Presbyterian Hospital in the city of Whittier. At the age of seven, Michael was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and needed to be admitted into the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. After 3 ½ year of chemotherapy and various other medications and treatment, he was determined to be in full remission. Approximately one year later, we received the bad news that Michael had relapsed and needed to be readmitted into the Children’s Hospital for three more years of treatment. During this second round of treatment, we elected to have Michael moved to the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte as we felt that due to its closer proximity to home, it would be less an intrusion on his life and allow him to lead as normal a life as possible given the circumstances he was facing. Once again, the treatment was successful and Michael was once again in full remission. After several months of a “normal” life, Michael once again relapsed and was readmitted into the City of Hope Hospital. After numerous discussions with the doctors, it was decided that a change in treatment was necessary in order to give Michael his best chance for beating this third incidence of Leukemia.
It was decided that a bone marrow transplant gave Michael his best chance of beating this disease. Be the Match began an immediate search in order to find a compatible donor for Michael. Unfortunately, his sister was not a good match, so the donor would have to come from somebody outside the family. It seemed that maybe this third time might be a charm for Michael as our prayers were quickly answered as they were able to find a very good match for Michael in a relatively short period of time. Preparations for the transplant would be very difficult for Michael as this third round of treatment would require heavy dosage chemotherapy treatments as well as multiple full body irradiation treatments. Naturally, when the day for the transplant came, we were a very apprehensive and very nervous, but also very hopeful that this would finally be the cure that we and Michael had always hoped for. Once again, we were blessed with what was deemed to be a successful treatment for what we hoped would be Michael’s last fight against this terrible disease. All went very well for Michael after the transplant. He was able to get back to Walnut High School for the second half of the school year. During that last school term, he was pronounced the King of the Winter Formal Dance, he was able to attend his senior prom, and he somehow managed to graduate with honors with his senior class despite all of the class time he missed due to hospital visits and hospital stays. During the same summer, he spent two weeks in Hawaii with the family, spent two weeks in the Lake Tahoe area with one of his friend’s family, spent a week in San Francisco with his friends to attend the three day Outside Lands concert in Golden Gate Park, and then followed that up with a three day concert San Bernardino. In the midst of all of this traveling, he still also managed to serve as an intern for Senator Bob Huff during the summer. With Michael starting school at Mount San Antonio College, and with nearly one year having elapsed since Michael’s transplant, his doctors were feeling very comfortable with Michael’s future since most patients who relapse after a transplant do so relatively quickly. Shortly after school had started, during the course of one of Michael’s scheduled checkups with his Doctor at the City of Hope, lab results revealed that Michael had once again relapsed. With his body already weakened by so much chemotherapy and radiation treatments, options were very limited. It was then decided that they would begin placement in a clinical trial that they had been having some success with. Unfortunately, on the day that he was to begin the trial, one of his counts was not within the parameters necessary for participation in this trial and he would need to seek other treatment. It was shortly thereafter that Michael developed an infection, and with his heart function down to twenty percent, he was not able to fend off the infection and finally succumbed to this terrible disease.
During this 11 year battle with Leukemia, Michael taught us all how to live life. He never complained about the disease and all of the limitations it placed on his life. Rather, he chose to live every second of his life as if there were no tomorrow. When he was not in the hospital, you might find him on the golf course with his teammates on the Walnut High School Varsity Golf team, or you might find him out in the desert riding his motorcycle, or you might finding riding his bicycle around the city of Walnut, or during the winter, you would probably find him in the mountains snowboarding with his friends. He loved and cherished his friends and family and always sought out ways to enjoy his time with them and with us. He certainly left no stone unturned in his quest for living life, and it taught us all the importance of cherishing each and every moment we have while we are alive. The vibrancy of his personality galvanized the entire city of Walnut in helping to support him. The Mayor of Walnut and the entire city council for the city of Walnut became regular participants in the Walnut Relay for Life Against Cancer as well for the numerous Be the Match Bone Marrow drives that Michael was involved in. The strength and courage he showed during his 11 year battle gave hope to so many people that the Walnut City Council voted to have a special memorial day in honor of Michael and placed a plaque honoring Michael installed on the wall of the Walnut Teen Center. As further acknowledgement of the impact Michael had on the residents of Walnut, the City of Walnut planted a Japanese Maple tree in his honor at the local park where all of the kids and teenagers hangout. It’s funny how parents are supposed to teach their children how to live, but somehow, Michael became our teacher and we became the students!
During the 11 year ordeal with Michaels battle, we saw and lived many things that no person or family should ever have to deal with. After much though and many discussions, our family decided that rather than simply mourn the loss of Michael, we needed to do something positive in Michaels memory that could help make a difference for this generation and coming generations, or in other words to “Make a Difference”. Hence, the name LIVE4MTM for our non-profit foundation name and “Make a Difference” for our mission statement.
Because of the wonderful care that Michael received at the City of Hope for almost six years, from the Doctors, to the nurses, and to all of the hospital support staff, we have elected to donate all of our net proceeds to the City of Hope Hospital for Cancer Research and also for the Pediatric Section of the Hospital.
We are well aware of the fact that this is certainly not in the best of times as far as our economy goes, and we are also well aware of the fact that there are numerous solicitations for so many other worthy and viable causes. Nevertheless, we would be sincerely grateful if you are able to help us in our quest to help find a cure for the terrible disease of cancer. Remember, no donation is too small!
Lindsay, Phoebe, Jaclyn and Michael Miyamoto