Mikey goes to Washington: Boardman pre-schooler travels to D.C. on behalf of children’s hospitals


BOARDMAN, Ohio (June 9, 2010)—When you think of someone taking on Washington, you probably don’t think of a blond-haired, blue-eyed 5 year old.

But that’s what will happen on June 15 and 16 when Mikey Howard of Boardman will lobby on behalf of Akron Children’s Hospital and all children’s hospitals for support and funding of pediatric health care. His trip is part of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals’ (NACH) Family Advocacy Day.

Frankly, this is a job Mikey would rather not have. He’s heading to Washington because he has t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common pediatric cancer, accounting for 35 percent of all cancers in children. About 7,000 children and teens are diagnosed with ALL in the United States each year.

An Emotional Roller Coaster
For Mikey’s parents, Nancy and Michael, a lingering bruise on their son became every parent’s nightmare.

When they brought their son to the ER at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus last May, a doctor told them their son’s white blood count was “through the roof.” Mikey was immediately transported to Akron Children’s main campus for further testing.

The diagnosis of t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia sent the family on an emotional roller coaster and began a journey of frequent visits to the hospital for labs, bone marrow aspirations, radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

“It completely turned our lives upside down,” says Nancy, as they pulled Mikey out of pre-school and began to worry about his exposure to germs on every venture from home. The Howards also have a 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, and operate a family business.

Access to Care
One blessing for the family is the care they receive at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus, which opened in December 2008.

“We feel very lucky we only have to drive four miles for Mikey’s care, rather than 50 miles to Akron,” says Michael. “Initially, we were coming 3 to 4 days a week.”

The Howards got great news in July: Mikey’s cancer was in remission.

Now, he is mostly back to being a “typical” 5 year old. He roots for the OSU Buckeyes and Pittsburgh Steelers, loves cartoons, and gets special customer status at his parents’ restaurant, Mike’s Famous Hot Dogs.

His hair is growing back, he is looking forward to a summer trip to Disney World, and, if his blood counts stay good, he will be starting kindergarten in the fall.

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