In many ways, 15-year-old Micah Worley of Prattville is a typical teenager. He loves playing and watching sports—in particular, University of Alabama football and NBA Lakers basketball.
But in the spring of 2011, something happened that would set Micah apart from his peers and sideline him from sports for 28 long months. On April 21, Micah became one of the 130 Alabama children who, each year, are newly diagnosed with cancer.
Micah’s mother, April, remembers the day her son first showed signs of illness. “We had planned to celebrate my birthday evening enjoying Micah’s baseball game. But when I picked him up from school, he was wheezing. He’d had shortness of breath during PE that day and hadn’t felt like running. Micah, at age 11, was very competitive and it was unlike him to want to take it easy.”
Since there had been a recent tuberculosis case at a nearby high school, April called her son’s pediatrician as a precaution. He sent Micah to a local hospital for an X-ray and CT scan—and it was there that a 4-inch mass was discovered in Micah’s chest.
“We were referred to the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama, and we never sought a second opinion,” April says. “Children’s treats about 90 percent of the pediatric oncology patients in the state, so we felt like we were in the best of hands.”
On April 20, a biopsy of the mass was taken. The next day, doctors told April that Micah had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma – T cell) and that he would need at least two years of chemotherapy.
Micah proved to be amazingly resilient throughout his treatment, his mother says. “Even during intense chemo cycles, he pushed to go to school and to participate in PE as much as possible. He didn’t give up or give in. Now we’re approaching the two-year anniversary of his being off therapy. We visit Children’s only once every three months to make sure Micah remains cancer-free and to monitor any late effects or complications related to his cancer diagnosis and treatment. We have been blessed beyond belief!
“I am not sure what we would have done without Children’s of Alabama,” she adds. “We relied heavily on the staff’s expertise and care to guide us through his diagnosis, treatments and, now, life after cancer. Thankfully, Children’s has been there to hold our hand every step of the way.”