A young Florida man given just eight months to live has beaten a rare and aggressive blood cancer, after nearly dying multiple times during treatments. Now he is inspiring others who are going through health hardships.
Michael Cramer went to see a doctor after suffering fatigue, night sweats, and weight loss—symptoms he thought were caused by the stress of COVID-19 lockdowns—but the blood test showed something was wrong and he was told to see a blood specialist immediately.
The 21-year-old was then diagnosed with Hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma (HSTCL) in July 2020. He and his his mother Ashlee Cramer then heard the terrifying news that most people do not survive it, and Michael may have just eight months to live.
He underwent three rounds of intensive chemotherapy at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami before receiving a bone marrow transplant later that summer.
The transplant resulted in a severe complication called Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD), where the donor cells attack the host cells. Over the next 18 months, GVHD affected Michael’s skin, his gastrointestinal tract, and then his liver went into failure and nearly killed him.
“The transplant was horrible. I felt so low,” he told SWNS. “It was a long, slow journey of hospital trips, infusions, and so many setbacks.
“I had my gallbladder removed, which left my stomach paralyzed. Then I got avascular necrosis in both of my knees that could have made me unable to walk.”
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At the start of 2022, his skin was yellow from the liver failure and receiving so many different, intense treatments that his body was just overwhelmed.
But this June, Michael started a new treatment at the University of Miami Cancer Institute, called extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP).
Approved by the FDA in 1988, ECP has benefitted patients with a variety of autoimmune diseases—plus the graft-versus-host disease, T-cell lymphoma, and organ rejection which all affected Michael.
The treatment separated his blood, treated it, and returned it back to him, which ultimately provided the solution that is still saving his life today.
Ashlee, who gave up her teaching job to care for Michael, described his journey as both heart-breaking and amazing: “Our lives changed dramatically but we decided to just take each day—well really each minute—as it comes.
“He has been so unbelievably strong and I am just so proud of him.”
Michael is now in full remission and is sharing his miraculous journey on TikTok and Instagram, and has produced a podcast with his mother, called Michael and Mom Talk Cancer.
Michael’s social media presence has allowed him to create a huge support system containing cancer survivors from around the world.
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He summed it up by saying, “Ultimately, having thousands of people understand and relate to me got me through it, so I’m so grateful that I have created this kind of space.”
“I wanted to give up so many times but I never did, and that kept me alive.
On the wall in the hospital Michael had a poster that said ‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react that matters’, which inspired the pair every single day.
Ashlee and her son hope that their content will inspire people to remain positive and remember that life can be hard, but it is never permanent.
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“I hope that if anyone is going through anything similar they can be inspired by my journey and get through it – you really can get through anything.”
WATCH the trailer for the podcast…
HELP Patients Get Through Anything by Sharing on Social Media…
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