freshman Michael Anderson — who is a hockey goalie and “100 percent band geek” — is one tough kid.
At 14, he’s already endured surgery and chemotherapy to beat back a rare form of cancer and he and his family still need our help. There’s a fundraiser from 8:30 p.m. to midnight Friday at , 1535 N. Old US 23 that'll include auctioning off premium tickets for Detroit Red Wings, Tigers and Pistons games.
So far, treatment has been successful with tests showing a tumor shrinking more than 60 percent with signs of the disease retreating elsewhere in his body, said Dave Anderson, Michael’s father. While this is fantastic news, he said this type of cancer is relentless and that Michael will need to go through 48 more weeks of chemo.
The family is grateful for the community support, which began a couple weeks after Michael was diagnosed in December with Rhabdomyoscarcom. This is a rare form cancer of the soft tissue, specifically the muscle. About 250-300 children are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
“In a word, we are humbled,” said Kathleen Anderson, Michael's mom.
Advocates for Awareness
As a family, the Andersons are choosing to talk openly about Michael’s condition.
“We think it’s important to bring awareness to the disease, too, especially because it can happen to children,” Kathleen Anderson said.
In the days before Christmas, Michael — who plays goalie for the goalie for the Kensington Valley Hockey Association Bantam Admirals along with his twin brother Sean at the — complained of a severe chest pain after one hard session on the ice.
After a long day in emergency room, the doctors found that there was fluid outside of his lung that needed to be removed the next day. But subsequent tests found a grapefruit-size tumor.
“Two days later Michael underwent a five-hour surgery to biopsy the tumor, the bone marrow in both hips, and to install a chemotherapy port in his chest,” Kathleen said. “After surgery, his lung collapsed and ended up in the pediatric ICU.”
Upon being stabilized, the family had learned the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and to one hipbone. The doctors recommended that chemotherapy be started immediately.
So, on Christmas Eve, Michael received his first dose with his family at his side. His brother never left the hospital.
“He is my best friend and I am one minute older than him,” Sean said.
It was New Year’s Eve when Michael was released and he is now an outpatient.
The Anderson family has lived in Hartland since 1997 and they share their home with two crazy hound dogs named Sophie and Tucker, which were rescued from Last Chance Rescue in Howell.
For Michael’s father, Dave Anderson, he was returning to his childhood home. I personally met Dave when I was Michael’s age and we had classes together. He graduated from Hartland High School in 1985. Dave’s parents have always been active in the community and his mother, Barb Anderson, is a wonderful woman who has worked within the school system for many years.
After graduation, Dave went to Ferris State University in 1990 where he met Kathleen. They were married three years later. Although Kathleen was raised in Bad Axe, a town up in the thumb area of Michigan, she says: “I feel like I grew up here in Hartland.” Since they moved here in 1997, she considers the community the best place in the world to raise a family.
Dave runs a sales/engineering staff for an automotive supplier. He drives to Southfield daily, and sometimes travels internationally.
Fortunately, Kathleen's job as a contract environmental consultant has given her enough flexibility during this difficult time. Since 2011 began, Kathleen has had Michael at home every day with her, or they spend their days at the cancer center, taking with doctors and taking tests.
She tells me that Michael has remained positive and not lost his sense of humor. I could see his sense of humor when I asked him about what his favorite class was in school.
“I’m 100 percent band geek,” said Michael, who plays the bassoon hopes to attend the University of Michigan and major in music.
Then he added: “I want to give a shout out to all the band geeks at Hartland High School.”
The Hartland Music Boosters have been a big support to Michael, and his family during this time. Just two weeks after the diagnosis, long-time friend Jill Crouse, a 1986 Hartland High School graduate, approached the family about holding a fundraiser.
All the proceeds will help pay for Michael’s treatment. The cost is $20 per person at the door. If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate an account has been set up at in Hartland.
Please come out and join us this Friday.