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Monday, July 27, 2009

Leukemia has Taken One of the Best of Us

Michelle and her husband Van just a couple of weeks ago while she was still healthy enough to enjoy a weekend getaway to Carmel.

At 27 years old and after fighting two long, hard, courageous years against her treatment resistant Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Michelle is now at peace.

It is with the heaviest heart and a lot of tears that I want to share the sad, sad news that Michelle Maykin has passed away. Those of you who read the blog I maintain for my cousin Tami will remember Michelle from some past posts there:

Project Michelle is a success for patients needing a donor
Graham is Gone and Michelle's Prognosis: 4-6 Weeks
PLEASE HELP: Michelle's Need is Critical

This was Michelle before Leukemia took control of her bone marrow and took over her life. Can I just tell you that I HATE CANCER!

On June 29th Michelle's husband Van posted on her blog that the doctor had told Michelle earlier that week that she had 4-6 weeks left. For days after I am certain that hearts broke all around the world for this very special girl, her devoted husband Van, her adoring family, her best friend Mabel and everyone lucky enough to have known her. Three weeks and five days later, surrounded by their love, Michelle passed away and was finally released from all of her pain and suffering.

When I first found the Project Michelle website in February there was so much hope that she was going to take back her life and was going to have her future.

This photo with her mom says it all. There is Michelle with Leukemia looking absolutely gorgeous. I've said it before but I'll say it again that Michelle's beauty was through and through, not just skin deep. It radiated from within her and touched and changed the whole world making it a better place for anyone fortunate enough to know her. And thanks to her blog and website people will continue to meet and know Michelle for decades to come.

Michelle, Van and Marshawn.

Realizing she had only so much time left, her family and best friends took her on a weekend retreat just over 2 weeks ago in Carmel, CA. There they stayed in a beautiful house alongside the Pacific coastline tucked in the forested hills. The following photos are from a slide show on her blog that she wanted to share with her readers...

Michelle's view of Carmel, CA

To read her blog it seems like everyone knew this would be a final trip and an opportunity to be together in the most normal of circumstances for perhaps the last time. I think this photo epitomizes Michelle so well. Full of life, upbeat and celebrating the good parts even while being forced to deal with the bad.

Michelle was alway surrounded by love whether at home or in the hospital. She had her family, friends and because she was so willing to go public with her story, to share and to educate, she also had strangers all around the country and world who knew her and were all pulling for and praying for her.

Michelle and her pup Marshawn

Michelle and Van.

As a direct result of Project Michelle's donor drive recruitment efforts with the Asian American Donor Program over the past 2 years since her diagnosis:

• 4 donors have been matches for patients in need and have donated their stem cells!

• 15 others are in the process of being tested to be donors.

• 110 individuals have been identified as possible matches for patients in need.

Michelle's legacy will forever be one of never giving up hope and saving the lives of others. The cancer may have taken her life but it didn't take her spirit. Michelle was fighting to the very end. Her best friend Mabel says in her blog that right up to the end she was cracking jokes, making everyone else laugh.

To honor Michelle please help to spread the word to others you know about the Marrow Donor Program particularly those of Vietnamese and Chinese descent. Educate them, explain to them the need and donation process. Ask them to register to become a potential donor. I am absolutely certain that wherever she is, Michelle will smile each time another person joins the registry.

They can learn more at Tami's Website or at the www.AADP.org so please send them one or both links.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe so many people are battling this horrible disease. My thoughts are prayers are with Michelle's family. It makes me feel good that both Darren and I are in the registry now! We really need to spread the word.


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