Svaha Spirit Series ~ Surviving the Treatment: The Return of Myles McLellan

A good friend of mine Lawrence Thomas shared the link to the video below when I posted ‘Stepping into the Ring with the ‘C’ Word”. I was overwhelmed as I am sure anyone who watched it was. Social isolation was something I never even considered a child might go through while dealing with cancer.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of children is play, laughter and silliness. Imagine for a moment being a child and not having anyone to play, laugh or be silly with simply because nobody understands what’s happening to you, while you fight for your life! Myles McLellan was only 9 years old when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Myles not only had strength, but the confidence to express his feelings and emotions for all his peers to see with the help of Billie Mintz president of arc, Artists Raising Consciousness.

The focus of arc is to help raise awareness of those who make a positive impact on society by using storytelling and social media. Arc Institute aims to assist organizations with their philanthropic goals and their social responsibility mandate by telling stories through cinema and by helping illuminate the human question “Why are we here?” It just doesn’t get much better than that for me!

Myles faced his fears head on like a true warrior but sadly passed away at 13 when his tumor returned, but he left this world a difference maker. He helped educate other children and taught them awareness. The stigmas that are associated with cancer from a child’s eyes are important to talk about and by doing so, Myles made change.

Education is key to understanding what strength really is! Your kids should watch this video with you! You were a leader and hero Myles!

Surviving the Treatment: The Return of Myles McLellan

Thank you so much for sharing this with us Lawrence, I felt it wasn’t enough to just have a link posted! xo

Here is the link if you would like more information about Artists Raising Consciousness or if you would more information about president of arc Billie Mintz.

Check out Myles Miracle Mission Website!

"Exploring the never-ending desires that fuel all life, while finding lyrical beauty in everyday happenings."


  • Samantha Mattersdorfer

    I think everyone knew I was going to comment on this. I was crying during the whole video and trying not to cry now. I know exactly what Miles went through because of me having one leg and having cancer. I have had numerous times where people have thought you could “catch” cancer by just hanging around me. People dont understand about cancer and they often dont even ask you if you want to do things with them like playing or going out. Its worse as a child like Miles case because him having cancer makes him seem like he has a disability because he does speak differently- a bit slower and has to find the words before saying them in a sentence. I noticed he felt uncomfortable with talking about that because he had the same laugh I had in documentary when I was talking about something. He is a child and kids just want to play and when you have no one to go outside and play with it makes the whole cancer thing alot worse and makes you think that you will never have friends. Plus on top of the life threatening illness its almost like your alone and sick most of the time.
    I often have to hold fundraisers for people to have people come and see me because on a regular day those people wont ask me to do things with them or even come to see me.
    Its not fair but when your not the same as everyone else , you get branded as different. Its almost like you were a shirt that says “Dont be my friend, dont ask me to do things because im different” Its not fair to anyone.
    As a cancer patient i have the memory loss and very mild hearing loss just like Miles. I still act the same but I feel the need to always have to impress people which I shouldnt have to do to keep my friends.
    I feel so much for what Miles had to go through and I think I feel it the most because I still get treated different. It scars a person and it was very much effecting Miles.

    • jacquie

      I understand what you’re saying, Samantha, about people behaving differently around you and in turn you feel like you have to act differently around them (like you need to impress or something). Everyone wants to fit in and feel normal, and little kids are no exception.
      I feel so sad for Myles and wish he didn’t have to go through what he did, but kudos to him for being brave enough to get in front of that class! What a brave little guy! He educated a lot of kids and, though he may not have been aware of it at the time, he made a huge difference in their lives. Just like you do, Samantha.

      Thanks for sharing. Your words are always right on point.

    • Tracy Westerholm

      Thanks for sharing your view with us Sam, it’s always enlightening! When topics such as this are vocalized it shines a light where we are not used to looking, to make everyone aware of something they perhaps hadn’t thought about. Awareness is incredibly important, it allows positive change to be made and with change we all move forward to a better place.

      It’s hard enough as a child or teen to be accepted when we are perfectly healthy. Everyone at some point in their lives has felt the rush of insecurity, but to have this feeling while trying to battle something not everyone understands must be incredibly difficult.

      Thank you for taking time out of your day to share a little more of you with us, I know you are making positive change in every single persons life you touch, you have certainly made me smile and we have yet to meet! xo

  • Bonnie Johnson

    Well that was truly heart-breaking.

    Thank you, once again, Samantha for sharing your point of view, especially when it concerns something that you unfortunately know so well.

    I just hope that by viewing documentaries such as these people of all ages will learn to understand and embrace those battling this horrific disease. It is after all fear that comes from ignorance which causes these attitudes.

  • Lawrence

    “Its almost like you were a shirt that says “Dont be my friend, dont ask me to do things because im different” Its not fair to anyone.”

    I think as Tracy said, it’s important for us to watch this with our children so we can teach them to be mindfull of what anyone who has an illness, is already going through never mind social exclusion.

    You are a strong person, Samantha. You inspire me as this story of Myles did.

    And Tracy…you are an amazing woman for going beyond to do this write up. Very well done.

    There is also an award winning short animated film that Billie produced that was inspired by Billies documentary of Myles, called ‘The Long Journey Home’. It’s around 5-7 minutes I believe.

  • Susan McLellan

    I am the mother of this amazing youngman. I am so very touched to hear that his message is still helping those facing the challenges of illness and otherwise. I miss him so very much, and at times my heart misses a beat, when I dwell on the thought that I am still here without him. Two years after Myles’ passed away, his father, my husband passed away suddenly from brain aneurysm. My world has forever changed, no longer do I have someone to share what we both went through, who saw first hand how Myles struggled. With no husband or children in my life, I could no stay in our family home and again faced another loss…our home. they say time heals, not sure I agree with that, but what I do agree with there is one place cancer can’t take hold of is the love that was shared between me and my son. I only wish he could of received the Miracle, he was sure he was going to have. LIFE, thanks Billie for Believing in my son’s heart song. God Bless those who have to face this journey.

    • Tracy Westerholm

      Thank you for your words Susan! Myles’s story can’t help but leave an impression on anyone who is fortunate enough to hear it, although it is heart breaking, it’s the kind of story that changes human being and makes them strive to be better because of the impact it has.
      My heart saddened when you wrote of the loss of your husband, I am deeply sorry. Although you have lost the human connection with both Myles and your husband, I am certain spirits such as theirs are standing next to you, guiding you through your journey in life.

  • Me

    What a powerful post! And the comments from the hearts of Susan and Samantha. Susan you will never be the same but your love will never change for your family. Hopefully your heart will heal some each day. Memories and love are forever. Samantha keep smiling my dear girl.

  • Susan McLellan

    The speech he was never allowed to give to his peers at school.

    Soldier of War By Myles McLellan
    Attention! What’s your name solider? Myles McLellan.
    What’s your age? 9 years old Sir!
    Do you like your life the way it is ? Yes Sir!

    Myles McLellan as of today Februrary 9, 2002 you have been called to war. But I’m just a kid! I don’t want to go to war! PLEASE!!!!!!!

    Just then the first bomb went off.

    Mr. Chairman, Honorable judges and friends.. Did you know that in the next 15 years cancer will double? 1 in 3 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer this year…unfortunately for me I am one of the 3.

    I was called to fight this war on my 9th birthday. This war is a lot like the real wars you seen on TV, a lot of fighting, killing , chemical warfare, injuries ,pain and broken hearts.
    But it is also different……there are no guns, bombs or fires. I had to fight with my bare hands…I had to fight an enemy I could not see….it was invisible. And when I was tired of all the fighting, my enemy kept on attacking me. Not only from behind the front lines, but also from within.

    Preparing for war I had to say good-bye to the life I once knew. Preparing for war meant that I had to undergo a 20 hour brain operation. This was the plan, to sneak up on the enemy…you see, the enemy…my brain tumor… had no idea we knew it was there!

    When I awoke I couldn’t talk, walk, speak, swallow or move. But, what I could hear made all the difference in the world…I could hear my mom and dad behind enemy lines giving me the best ammunition to fight with…prayer, laughter, love and yes, music. Actually, they played my favorite ..Avril Laveng’s So Complicated!!! It was amazing how powerful this was against the enemy…my cancer. I think that they should try this in Iraq…fight them with love and compassion.

    Once my body was strong enough my comrades , you my school and faith community, hit the trenches. What the enemy didn’t know was that I wasn’t fighting on my own, and it certainly didn’t know anything about the power of prayer! This was one soldier that wasn’t going down without a fight! This was WAR!

    Each day I hit the enemy with the big guns…radiation. Radiation is an external beam that goes into my brain, blowing up the enemy! Yeah…10 points for me and 0 for Cancer. We fought long and hard for 54 weeks. Could you imagine being your age right now and having to fight something you couldn’t see for 54 weeks.? Let me tell you it’s not easy and it sure isn’t pretty. Just ask my mom, she went off the deep end when I lost all my hair. When you, the students, prayed for me guess what? You were helping with the fight. You helped stop the enemy from advancing. And when the cancer thought it was advancing…Surprise!!!!!!!!! We brought out dadadaaaaaa “Captin Chemo” Chemo is great…. it kills everything , but it also kills the good stuff too.

    During the course of my battle, I had suffered some casualties…. the chemicals used in chemo harmed my body. That is why I have no balance, have lost 40% of my hearing, lost my hair and have problems with my cognitive thinking…what ever that is?

    There is one thing that has never changed, in fact, it has always stayed the same…and that is…. not a day has ever gone by that my parents don’t tell me how much they love me!

    My other relationships with my friends have changed…I would be lying if I told you it has been all for the good, the truth is that I have lost a lot of friends, sure I have classmates , but when the school bell rings , most of the time I am forgotten. I’m not sure why, my phone never rings with invites to come play . You need to know that I am the same kid I use to be, I ‘m just like you. I really need your friendship to help me heal and be a kid again. I would like my phone to ring and have you call instead. Just imagine if you woke up tomorrow with cancer…how would you feel being left alone?

    My battle is not over, and like other kids just like me, we can’t beat this monster without your support and understanding. Because of you and others in my platoon, this is one time cancer won’t win.

    Judges…you are probably wondering why I am reading this….well when I was fighting this war with radiation…it affected my ability to read and my memory…in fact my short term memory is probably functioning at 30%. But my long term memory , that’s a different story…I remember a life, a child’s life free of needles, pain, drugs and filled with friends, playing, hopes and dreams.

    Myles McLellan
    Age 10
    Chatham Ontario Canada

  • Lawrence

    Absolutely beautiufl, Susan. That’s all I can say.

    The one part did arouse a bit of a funny image when you reference music in Iraq.

    Ever watch ‘Mars Attacks?’ Dumbest movie you will ever watch, but the political and social digs are brilliant.

    Ultimately, it is music that kills the enemies. Forces their brains to burst. It’s hilarious, but does touch on the power of music.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing message from your brave young warrior.

  • Dan Tye

    Thank you so very much for posting this today! As with anyone, I was struggling these past few days with different things in my life…mostly pity party things that I just couldn’t pull myself out of for whatever reason. Then this morning I saw this beautiful post from you, and from my dear friend Susan. Susan is a soul placed on this earth to endure more pain than anyone I have ever met. Her strength, faith, conviction and pain are unlike anything I have ever witnessed, which is exactly where Myles got it from. Myles was the most inspiration boy/man that I have ever known. It was almost divine how he touched peoples lives simply by being Myles. He inspired me to write a song for him and I would like to share it with you now. So to end, God bless you Susan, Wayne and Myles. There is no end to your love…and my wish is love to all who need it and thank you to all who give it. Peace…

    The Extra Mile
    Some people are born, into fortune and fame
    But there are too many kids, who know nothing but pain
    No boyfriends or girlfriend, to brighten their gloom
    Just the nurses and doctors, as they pass through their room
    They hold out for hope, that someday real soon
    They’ll break free from this curse, and get out of this room

    ‘cuz I don’t wanna stay in today.
    I wanna get out and play
    Feel the wind in my hair.
    Laugh and play without care.
    But this pain deep inside, makes me wanna lay down and cry
    But this fight its worth while, so I’m goin that extra mile

    And this fight from within, is goin on strong
    Find the will to survive, and the strength to go on
    The only thing worse, than fighting through this
    Is tomorrow there’ll be, another name on the list

    So I’ll stay here and fight, right up to the end
    But I can’t fight alone, I need all of my friends,

    ‘cuz I don’t wanna stay in today. I wanna get out and play
    Feel the wind in my hair. Laugh and play without care.
    But this pain deep inside, makes me wanna lay down and cry
    But this fight its worth while, so I’m goin that extra…for Myles.

    Dan Tye
    Liquid Static, 2004

  • Bonnie Johnson

    Susan – My heart goes out to you. I cannot even imagine the kind of pain you have endured. What an amazing and inspiring son you had. Isn’t it wonderful that he still touches so many.

    Dan – Beautiful song! And what a wonderful sentiment ~ “and my wish is love to all who need it and thank you to all who give it. Peace…”

    • Dan Tye

      Thank you everyone…here is a link to the video on my FB page. It is the only video that had Myles in it. Its a bit rough but you’ll get the point. It was from the event inside of the school featured in the movie. Please enjoy…

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