MMS Hero Battles Rare Bone Cancer
Michael (MJ) Graves is a twelve-year-old student at Murphy Middle School who was recently diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that aggressively attacks bones and soft tissue. Warning signs began in October when MJ experienced excruciating pain throughout his thigh. His parents, Mike and Becky Graves, took him to the emergency room where an X-ray was taken before leaving without answers.
MJ’s mom said, “We were released and told to follow up with our pediatrician. I will regret for the rest of my life not taking him to a children's hospital and not insisting on blood work. Parents, if there is something out of the ordinary affecting your kiddo, don't take them anywhere other than a children's hospital. You need specialists who know kids and can recognize outside the norm issues quickly.”
MJ’s pediatrician eventually referred him to an orthopedic doctor who incorrectly diagnosed him with tendinitis of the knee. As time passed without any improvement, he was referred to a physical therapist who immediately realized something was horribly wrong. After being referred to a different orthopedic doctor who specializes in pediatrics, MJ’s MRI revealed a pelvic bone infection. Four operations would soon follow.
Becky explained, “They took a bunch of bone, fluid and tissue so they could rule things out and hopefully identify the root cause. MJ continued to have terrible pain. We all thought it was from the surgery, but the pain wasn’t subsiding and was insufferable. They went through the most powerful pain medications and nothing worked for more than a few minutes. He couldn't walk and could barely stand. They did another MRI of his thigh and pelvis area.”
The surgeon later returned with devastating news regarding pathology lab results showing inflammation in the bone, as well as small-round-blue-cell tumor cells. MJ’s mom and dad desperately tried to give him hope. “He was scared and said he didn't want to die. Our hearts broke. We told him his grandpa had beaten bladder cancer, his great-grandfather had beaten colon cancer, his grandmother had beaten breast cancer, and that he was young and strong and would have the best care money can buy from wherever in the country we had to travel.”
She went on to say, “He asked if we could pray. He wasn't angry with God. Even in such a delicate state when he had just found out he had cancer. He asked God to help him make it through, thanked God for loving us and professed his love to God. Yes, immediately after finding out he had cancer, our baby was praising God. And asking that God watch over my husband, Mike, and me. It blew us away. No matter what God you worship, you can feel how profound that is.”
MJ was referred to the oncology department at Medical City Children’s Hospital and was taken there by ambulance on Feb. 7. His oncologist soon began working on MJ’s treatment plan to fight Ewing’s Sarcoma. MJ will receive six rounds of chemo lasting 12 weeks, along with tentative plans for additional surgery and radiation. They discussed the main side effects of chemotherapy being nausea and mouth sores, as well as dealing with the risk of health issues as good cells are killed with the bad. His treatment began on Feb. 9. At one point during chemotherapy, MJ began screaming due to unbearable pain inside his nose. The pediatric oncology nurse soon discovered he was experiencing an extremely rare reaction to the medication called “Wasabi Nose.”
MJ bravely shaved his head stating, “Cancer isn’t taking my hair… I am.” His parents continue to be in awe of his strength at such a young age. “MJ’s faith through this has continued to blow us away. The hospital chaplain came by the room going over the life of Jesus. When I learned about his visit, MJ started to cry saying, ‘Jesus gave his life for us and it's just so sad what he had to go through on Earth.’ He informed me that our lives as a family will be much more enriched after he beats cancer, and for the first time he can really see that God has a plan. The extent of his faith and the depth of his love for God moves me daily.”
Murphy Messenger previously reported the heroic actions of MJ that occurred on July 4, 2013 at only eight-years-old. As a member of Boy Scout pack 1789, MJ’s quick-thinking saved the lives of two people who were drowning in a Wildwood, California lake. As a father jumped in to save his drowning son, he began to go under as well. MJ quickly turned his boat around, paddling as fast as he possibly could, arriving in time to save their lives. MJ was awarded the Boy Scouts of America National Court of Honor Lifesaving and Meritorious Action Award, as well as the National Certificate of Merit for the heroism he displayed that day. MJ is now fighting for his own life.
As MJ continues to battle Ewing’s Sarcoma, a GoFundMe account has been created to help pay mounting medical bills. With the community’s support, the Graves family will be able to focus on the health of their little boy. MJ hopes to play cello in the park, spend time with friends and ride four-wheelers again very soon. Donations can be made athttps://www.gofundme.com/mjs-fight-against-bone-cancer.