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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Cancer blogger reaches high school graduation

Miles Levin's mom took this photo on a recent trip to New York City.

When we first met 18-year-old Miles Levin in May, he was losing his voice as a rare pediatric cancer, Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, ran wild inside his body. He was also losing his life. His doctors weren't sure he'd even live long enough to graduate on June 8.

But during his battle with cancer, Miles has been writing a blog that seems so full of life, with wit and optimism and depth, that it was difficult to imagine him not making it. People wrote Miles back from across oceans and timezones. A woman declared that her daughter had died at peace because of Miles' words. (Read a CNN profile about Miles)

Last month, he blogged for CNN and said this:

"I accept what is to come, but I cannot rid myself of a deep mourning for all those experiences -- college, marriage, children, grandchildren -- that will probably never be mine to celebrate. What solace I do find is in the knowledge that I have done everything I can to transmute this terribleness into something positive by showing as many people as I can how to endure it with a smile." (Read Miles' full post: 'Whatever life we get is bonus')

After Carol Costello did a story about him on "360," Miles traveled from his home in Bloomfield, Michigan, for a check-up at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and paid us a visit. He took his picture, smiling, with Anderson Cooper. It made his blog and in his next entry he declared himself thrilled to have touched so many people and reported some good news -- the doctors had said he was doing better.

He went home to Bloomfield for more chemotherapy, hoping to extend his life. His grandmother died, of cancer, as Miles grappled with the treatments, throwing up over and over again, shivering and shaking and nodding off into a deep sleep. His mother warned us that Miles' optimistic blog was sparing us the ugliness of cancer. His cancer faded into a generalized pain, a frightening crippling pain, that enveloped his body. He rushed off to New York to see his doctors, worried this might be it. We caught up with him at the pediatric cancer center where an amusement park of games and toys fight to amuse suffering, bald-headed children with cancer. He looked so big in that colorful room.

But, again, the news was really good. They didn't know what was causing the pain, but Miles was declared healthy enough to go to prom and graduation and put off chemo long enough to enjoy those milestones. He wakes up some days feeling well enough that he has to remind himself he has cancer. He raced off in a rush to enjoy this found time, to tie a knot in a formal tie, and find a suitable coursage for his girlfriend, Robyn.

He spoke at graduation on Friday along with Bob Woodruff, the ABC correspondent who suffered crippling injuries in Iraq. Miles met Woodruff on a plane trip. They graduated from the same private school in Michigan, Cranbrook, and share the experience of having lived the best of their life on time they borrowed.

After he graduates, Miles isn't certain what to do with the diploma. He has a college acceptance, won while studying under the influence of chemotherapy and by writing a persuasive essay. But he feels like it would be too optimistic to plan for something months away.

So, instead, he is planning for tonight, when he will graduate yet again, this time as one of the Sloan Kettering teenagers that has made it through high school on cancer. There will be a small ceremony at the hospital for him and the others.

"That's going to be an interesting experience," he predicted. "We're all going to have our hats fall off our bald heads. I'd imagine it will be meaningful in it's own way. Everyone graduating knows that they've achieved a milestone that they very well could have not made it to and there's not that awareness of any sort of school of generally healthy people."

But Miles says he's certain he will blog about it and let the world know.

-- By Rose Arce, CNN Producer


Editor's note: Miles Levin's blog is hosted at www.carepages.com. To see the full blog, you must register, and then in the page search field, type LevinStory.
Posted By CNN: 12:00 PM ET
  23 Comments
What a God thing for Miles and Bob Woodruff to meet on the plane and share the podium at graduation. I bet both of them walked away talking about how brave the other one was and how inspirational they were. My prayers for Miles will be a relief from pain and continued peace for a life well lived.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 12:48 PM ET
I have kept up with Miles ever since the first show you'll had on him. I am glad that you'll are updating his story for those who haven't kept up with him.

I am so glad that he is doing so well! And got the opportunity to go to his prom and graduation! Those are huge milestones for him.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 1:21 PM ET
Miles Levin is an inspiration to everyone facing daily adversity in their life.

Miles has learned in his young life what takes many people years to understand, and some never do.

In reality, all of us are living a day to day existence because we never know what fate has in store for us.

Best of luck to you, Miles, and may your day to day life add up to many more years of life.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 1:24 PM ET
Miles continues to be a bright light in our world. I can't say how grateful I am to Miles and all the other people who are suffering from illness, but show a strength and a grasp of life that puts most of us to shame. I wish only the best for Miles. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 1:26 PM ET
It's hard for me to think of an appropriate way to express how this young man has made me feel...humbled might be a good adjective. I hope that one day I will become at least half the person he is.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 1:37 PM ET
Thank you for the update on Miles. I'm very glad he's made it to his graduation and I do hope that he plans ahead for his future. I can only imagine what he's gone through battling this disease and I'm still very humbled by him.

Miles you truly are one in a million and I'm pulling for you to live a rich and wonderful life. Keep up the fight!
Posted By Mei Wong, Los Angeles, CA : 1:38 PM ET
Hey Rose,
Is Miles awesome, or what? I was complaining about a dental appointment I have today! I feel so lame!!
Once again I have been inspired by Miles. It is so wonderful to hear that he is doing better and was able to attend his graduation and prom with his girlfriend. Ye~HAW!!!
Miles: Keep going! Facing death has opened a window into life. From the heart of suffering is borm devine inspiration. You are changing our lives, one blog at a time!
God's Blessings~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 1:40 PM ET
Thank you for sharing such an inspirational story. Good luck to you, Miles and Congratulations on your graduation!!
Posted By Heather; Edmonton, Canada : 2:03 PM ET
Hi Miles:

Congratulations on a fine achievement of graduation! You are a great role model for young people trying to accomplish things.

This morning I was talking to a friend about the book "In An Instant" by Bob Woodruff. It is a fasinating story. He seems like another good person on television.

Miles, this quote is for your Mom. One of the quotes I carry with me was inscribed in a book I have read. It reads "good books are like good lives, there must be some happy balance between the tears and the laughter."

Keep smiling and laughing Miles! You are in inspiration to all of us!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 3:11 PM ET
Congratulations Miles!! What a celebration that must have been. May you continue to 'go confidently in the direction of your dreams'.
Posted By Claire Colvin, White Rock, BC : 3:34 PM ET
Miles---

Triump over tragedy! You go Miles Levin. You are so on the money about every day being a gift. There are things in this life we all take for granted and in the blink of an eye they could easily be gone forever. Your story is so uplifting and encouraging keep on blogging and keep the faith. What you are doing for others around the world is a blessing. Congratulations on your medical report and certainly on your graduation. An accomplishment for anyone to be proud of and most certainly in your situation. Godspeed Miles Levin!
Posted By Zann Easterwood Martin, Tennessee : 4:23 PM ET
God bless him. I hope and pray he is able to live a long and happy life. What a fighter!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 4:46 PM ET
I thank you Miles, for the inspiration and hope you bring. You truly have a gift of making this complex thing called life appear so simple, when unfortunately, we know it is not. Thanks upon thanks for allowing the world to see your inner beauty.
Posted By Andrea R., Normal, IL : 5:20 PM ET
The next time I'm feeling sorry for myself, I'll be sure to think about this young man, who really understands the expression: When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. Congrats to Miles on his HS graduation, considering so many healthy young people, for whatever reason drop out, he is a wonderful example of not ever taking anything in life for granted, including an education.

Katie, Garland TX
Posted By Anonymous : 5:26 PM ET
I hope Miles will attend college where he gets to stay in a dorm and to experience college life. Someone so passionate and inspirational like Miles deserves that.
Posted By Jason P., Houston, TX : 6:06 PM ET
Miles,

It takes great courage. A Roman Catholic bishop told me that at my high school graduation. He knew I almost died that year in a car accident. I remember very little from the hospital. What I do recall is promising myself that I would walk unassisted to get that diploma. I did. My high school graduation symbolized the biggest accomplishment of my life, my survival. I hope yours was just as symbolic for you. Your life is courage. You have faced your mortality, the toughest hurdle I think life gives us. And you have turned some of the most difficult times a person can face into inspiration for others. That is just impressive. Continue to enjoy and celebrate each day as the miracle that it is. I hope your life is always amazing.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 6:25 PM ET
I admire you alot Miles because nowaday, many young healthy kids are not worried about their education at all. America needs more talent people like you in order to keep being the world leader. I wish you all the best wherever you go.

Vincent Nguyen, Seattle, WA
Posted By Anonymous : 7:05 PM ET
Since the story aired for the first time,I've been getting updates from his page,Carespage. Miles writes beautifully,without sugarcoating anything and he has a wonderful sense of humor. His mom also writes on the page,the perspective from a parent with a sick child. It is very emotionnal to read sometimes.

He is courage,determination. I'm glad he saw graduation day. And Miles,whatever you choose to do in life,keep a place for your writing,you have a gift,the gift to touch people.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 7:06 PM ET
Miles is a great writer in progress. In addition to graduating, he won a creative writing award.

Miles, you have a great gift for expressing your deepest feelings in the written word. Good luck with your writing and keep on blogging!
Posted By Kay Temple, TX : 9:46 PM ET
Miles, I just saw the latest segment of your story on CNN and am so very happy that you received your high school diploma, went to your prom with Robyn and experienced all of the other festivities that go with this event.

You are a huge blessing to your family and to the world! My admiration for your courage and integrity is boundless. I can identify with the chemo and radiation you have endured having had a very minor bout with breast cancer. God bless you and keep you, may he make his face to shine upon you and give you peace. May you have a lot more time on this planet to enjoy the things that are to come; we need many, many more wonderful and caring people like you. God bless your Mom, also, as a Mom myself I know she must be very proud of you.
Posted By Frances Eosue, Monponsett, MA : 11:15 PM ET
what a wonderful story.

thank you for sharing this and good luck to everyone.
Posted By Jemillex Bacerdo Chicago, IL. : 11:48 PM ET
Miles,

Thank you for keeping everyone afloat with your uplifting spirit.
Congratulations with your high school graduation and hopefully we will get to see you at College.
Posted By Ratna, New York, NY : 9:11 AM ET
After watching your story on Miles last night, I sat back and thought how self-centered we can allow ourselves to become.
To Miles: You are truly an angel from above. I can only wish I make 1% of the impact on the human race in my lifetime as you already have in yours. My best to you and your family. You are an inspiration to us all.
Danny-Fort Worth, TEXAS
Posted By Anonymous : 9:44 AM ET
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