Thirteen year-old Mitch lost his right leg to cancer but found the words to describe the experience when he met his hero, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant. "Kobe told me that trying your best and losing isn't good enough for him. He said that winning is his goal and that really resonated with me because that's how I feel now –determined."
Mitch wanted very much for his Saskatoon family to be part of his Wish adventure. And so they were: mom Myra, dad Grant, three siblings and an uncle (who paid his own way), flew to Los Angeles with tickets for a game between the Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers won.
The singularity of the disease (osteogenic sarcoma) did, for a time, seem to divide Mitch's family, says Myra, who spent weeks in Royal University Hospital at her son’s bedside. Without her the other kids had to become more independent "and also learn how to receive help from friends and neighbours."
She and Grant believe that the Wish holiday helped them all reunite. "I think the wish helped us to accept what happened to our family," says Grant. "We were all quite detached for awhile."
Looking back over the last two years, Mitch says that going through cancer feels like a surreal experience. "I've accepted the amputation," he says, rolling up his pant leg to show a visitor the hardware of his full prosthesis. "It is what it is."
Asked what he might say to someone else with cancer, Mitch is quick with an answer: "I'd tell anybody with cancer that you have to believe you're going to get better. It can't come from anybody but you."
Today, Mitch is back on top of his grade 10 studies, rides his bike with its adapted pedal and is giving serious consideration to taking up a new sport – snow boarding.
"My surgeon put me in touch with a girl named Emily who snow boards with a prosthetic leg. So I talked to her and she sent me some videos; it looks pretty cool."
Determined to Win
Add name and comment: