"Cancer claimed another young life on Sunday, August 19, when Miles Levin passed away after a two-year battle with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma."
Writing the above sentence was a struggle--after forty-five minutes and dozens of re-writes, I still haven't found the words to describe Miles' passing without making it sound like he lost the fight.
In reality, Miles' wisdom will live on to educate others about what happens when one receives a devastating diagnosis during their formative years. Miles kept a blog of his experiences at Care Pages (keyword search "Levin Story"). Like many cancer bloggers, he initially started writing online as a way to keep friends and family updated on his condition. However, Miles' thoughtful words soon became inspiration to millions; his personal blog received thousands of reactions from all over the world. Earlier this year, he wrote a spare and beautiful piece named "Whatever Life We Get is Bonus" for CNN, part of which is excerpted below:
I remember my first chemo round, staring at the ceiling and trying not to cry. The agony was stunning. I've long since learned to go ahead and cry. How could this have happened? Yet as with anything that happens, it happens, and then suddenly you find it has happened, and more things keep continuing to happen. Chemotherapy has instilled in me a visceral understanding that all bad things will pass in time ... but that all good things will too.
I set out on a 19-month course of treatment, chronicling the journey on an online blog. Little did I know that my little Web site intended to keep extended family and friends informed would find readers all across the country and even the world, including such countries as Japan, Australia, Germany, Brazil.
My journey became our journey, with treatment finishing last December. For a brief, hopeful month in January, it appeared to have been successful. My scans were clear. But, as is so common with cancer, there were still sub-detectable rogue cells lurking in distant corners of my body. Within weeks, they swarmed forth again and my body was infested once more.
A recurrence of my kind of cancer has been hitherto incurable, although I still cling to a slim ray of hope. But in all likelihood, I am in the last few months of my short life.
Unlike many cancer patients, I don't have much anger. The way I see it, we're not entitled to one breath of air. We did nothing to earn it, so whatever we get is bonus. I might be more than a little disappointed with the hand I've been dealt, but this is what it is. Thinking about what it could be is pointless. It ought to be different, that's for sure, but it ain't. A moment spent moping is a moment wasted.
Truer words were never written. And although my heart aches at the fact that yet another family is faced with picking up the pieces after multiple years of intensive, expensive, invasive treatment, I feel grateful for having learned of the wisdom and love of life that is packed into every word that Miles wrote.
The loss of his young life is a tragedy. But he did NOT lose any battles. Miles Levin was a fighter through and through, and the impact of his life will only grow with time.
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