Monday, August 20, 2007

The Story of Miles Levin: A Teen Sharing Cancer With the World in a Beautiful Way

Miles Levin, an inspiration to many around the world – and especially in Metro Detroit -- passed away yesterday. This is devastating news because he was so young and talented, but it is also beautiful news because we all know he's in a better place and in his short life he was able to teach us so many lessons on the value of life.

I came across the 18-year-old's blog a few months ago after reading a story in The Detroit News. I quickly became intrigued by reading the blog, which was written from a sobering perspective – he was living with Stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and deadly type of cancer. I felt guilty reading about someone else's pain, but thankful that I was granted yet another reminder of life’s preciousness.

My heart broke as I learned about his life and how he had to watch as friends in high school live “normal” lives, thinking ahead to the days of college, marriage and children, meanwhile Miles didn't know what was procedure was next or what was going to happen the next day or when the cancer would consume him for good. But he didn't let those thoughts faze him.

I found him to be amazing.... I didn’t know him, yet I felt so inspired by him. He was literally an 18-year-old trapped with a mind that some 80-year-olds don't even posses. His lust for life was undeniable and he easily was a magnet to many people searching for inspiration.

Here is just one of many thoughtful and inspiring excerpts from his blog:
"I went to the driving range the other day and I was thinking... I was thinking how you start out with a big bucket full of golf balls, and you just start hitting away carelessly. You have dozens of them, each individual ball means nothing so you just hit, hit, hit. One ball gone is practically inconsequential when subtracted from your bottomless bucket. There are no practice swings or technique re-evaluations after a bad shot, because so many more tries remain. Yet eventually you start to have to reach down towards the bottom of the bucket to scavenge for another shot and you realize that tries are running out. Now with just a handful left, each swing becomes more meaningful. The right technique becomes more crucial, so between each shot you take a couple practice swings and a few deep breaths. There is a very strong need to end on a good note, even if every preceeding shot was horrible, getting it right at the end means a lot. You know as you tee up your last ball, "This is my final shot, I want to crush this with perfection; I must make this count." Limited quantities or limited time brings a new, precious value and signficance to anything you do. Live every day shooting as if its your last shot, I know I have to. I found out today 5 year survival rates are just 20%."

Miles has a lesson we all can/should learn -- stop and smell the flowers, feel the grass beneath your feet, bask in the sun and love and be loved -- you never know what tomorrow may bring.

RIP Miles. We all know yesterday was a day for another angel to get *wings.*

If you get the opportunity, check out his blog via Beaumont hospital's CarePages Web site at (you have to register, then type in "LevinStory" in the search bar).

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