Centerville teen: ‘Mom, we’re not in the hospital anymore’

Michael “Mac” Reese of Centerville, second from the left. CONTRIBUTED

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Michael “Mac” Reese of Centerville, second from the left. CONTRIBUTED

When Michael “Mac” Reese of Centerville was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) he was going through life like any other 17 year-old kid in high school.

Mac and his family has been fighting since September 2016.

AML when broken down is a type of cancer cell that can progress quickly if not treated, and would most likely be fatal within months. This is an all too familiar diagnosis for the children of Dayton and surrounding areas.

Mac had a solid group of friends, played on his school’s football team, and was thrilled to be starting his final year of high school. Little did he or his family know, his senior year was going to change his life and the life of many others forever.

Early into his senior year, Mac just felt like something was wrong. His mother, Colleen Reese said, “We had all lived healthy, normal lives. This came out of nowhere. Treatments began immediately and shortly thereafter we were approached by a nurse at Dayton Children’s who mentioned having a wish granted by A Special Wish Foundation. We had never considered the possibility of having a wish granted for Mac. When we spoke to him about what he would like to do, he said right away that he wanted to go on spring break with his friends.” At first, it looked like Mac was going to get his wish, but in early February he had a stem cell transplant and all plans were put on hold. “The disappointment was devastating for Mac,” said Colleen, “He had already lost his entire senior year and now he lost his opportunity to go on spring break with his friends.”

Within a couple of months, ASW started plan B, a trip for Mac and his three best friends to the Florida Keys! Now 18, Mac, along with his mother, aunt, and his friends went on a fun-in-the-sun trip to Hawks Cay! “He was so excited!” said Colleen, “When we walked into the resort and started to take everything in, we were all just so blown away!” Colleen continued, “Mac and his friends spent most of their time at the resort. Hawks Cay has a man-made lagoon so the boys were able to paddle board, and swim around with the tropical fish who making their way into the lagoon! What Mac and the boys really enjoyed were the five restaurants and swimming pools. He wanted to just relax, and that’s what everyone did. The guys simply enjoyed being together, walking around at night, and meeting up with other teenagers staying at the resort. But for me, what really made this trip deeply special, was when Mac turned to me and said ‘Mom, we’re not in the hospital anymore.’ And then he wanted to take a photo with me!”

When asked what their family had learned throughout their experience, Colleen said, “I’ve learned there are so many people out there who are so generous and there’s a huge community of support. Other people who have gone through this, the survivors, you meet them and they tell you their stories. Right in front of you are people who are alive and healthy. It seems like you’ll never get to the end of this journey. We had no idea organizations like ASW exist. And now, we make it a point to give back and bring awareness because of the support we received. Cancer is a catastrophic illness. It devastates the family physically, mentally and financially. We have such an amazing resource here in Dayton. A gift like this was hard to accept. I’m a worker. I’ve worked every day of my life. Plus Primrose Schools of Centerville & Yankee sponsorship of Mac’s wish was so generous, we will never be able to thank them enough.”

The Reese’s continue their fight, but are pleased to report Mac is currently in remission.

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Colleen said, “I’ve learned a lot. I’ll never be the person I was and neither will Mac, or anyone else in our family for that matter. But, things get better day by day and we’re incredibly thankful for Primrose Schools of Centerville & Yankee, Dayton Children’s, Mac’s doctors, and A Special Wish Foundation.”

A Special Wish Foundation-Dayton Chapter is the only wish granting organization located in the Dayton region. For more information on how you can be part of granting a local child’s wish, go online to www.aspecialwishdayton.org.

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