Remembering Mickey Stachel

Mickey attended Jackson High School and graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a degree in Accountancy and Decision Sciences. He also received a Master’s degree in Taxation from the University of Akron. He was a CPA who worked for the accounting firm of Hall, Kistler & Co. LLP. In addition to his passion for his career, he enjoyed playing guitar and ukulele, golfing and watching Cleveland sports. He leaves behind a hole in all of our hearts. Those of us fortunate enough to have known him will remember his laughter, kindness and most of all his love.

The Sarcoma Journey

After months of tooth discomfort, Mickey received his devastating diagnosis of a low-grade Myofibroblastic Sarcoma of the maxillary sinus at the age of 26 in September 2010. So he began his courageous battle. At the Cleveland Clinic in October, he underwent a maxillary sinus resection and he required reconstructive surgery using metal plates and bone and tissue from his lower leg. The surgery went well with only 15% chance of recurrence with radiation, and he looked fantastic! He began a grueling seven week course of radiation therapy that included daily trips to the Cleveland Clinic. This surgery and radiation combination resulted in trismus, a condition where he was unable to open his mouth more than a fraction of inch. Needless to say, this made speech and eating difficult.

In January, Mickey developed swollen nodes in his neck, and biopsy showed recurrence. He had standard chest scans in preparation for the scheduled surgical removal of the involved lymph nodes. Unfortunately, this scan revealed lung metastasis, so surgery was canceled and chemotherapy was recommended. Mickey started the notoriously brutal regimen of AIM. He endured the chemo for seven months, and it had shrunk his tumors! The tumors were now small enough to be removed surgically!

The first surgery was to remove those original nodes from his neck in September of 2011, followed by surgery to remove metastases from his right lung. This included removing a third of his lung. Both surgeries went well and the surgeons were cautiously optimistic! Left lung surgery was planned, but he received more devastating news as he was recovering. The tumor had seeded all along his neck incision. At this point different chemotherapy was recommended and he began therapy in December of 2011, but this was canceled in February of 2012 as it was ineffective.

Despite the pain and roller coaster of emotions, Mickey continued to hope for the best. After it was clear that he would not survive, he continued to fight. He volunteered for a clinical trial researching a new sarcoma therapy to improve the outcomes of future patients.

Mickey’s participation in the clinical trial was interrupted when he had hip pain and scans showed tumor in his right thigh bone. In March, he returned to the Cleveland Clinic where his thigh bone was replaced with a prosthesis. After a three week recovery, he resumed the clinical trial. He traveled to Boston from Ohio three times over the course of six weeks for chemo treatment, but the chemo wasn’t working. Since he was getting weaker, he decided to stay at home and take a recently FDA-approved oral chemotherapy starting in June.

In the meantime, the tumor had progressed in his lungs and spread to other bones. The tumor in his neck became very large and painful and even began ulcerating. He was hospitalized with a blood infection from his neck wound and was placed on hospice. He died one week later at home on August 19, 2012 at the age of 28. His oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic said this was one of the worst cases he had ever seen.

During one visit, Mickey’s doctor at Dana Farber told him, “None of us know when we are going to die, though the chance of you dying before me is likely. I predict that you are going to die peacefully surrounded by your loving family.” Mickey later expressed this sentiment and wished not to suffer and be with his family. In the end he got his wish.

The Family’s Update

We are reeling from the loss of our beloved son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend to Myofibroblastic Sarcoma. We are committed to supporting the cause of sarcoma research so that no one else suffers the way he did.

Donate in Mickey’s Memory

Mickey fought this dreadful disease, and we hope that we all can continue the good fight for him. Sarcomas represent just 1% of all adult cancers. The myofibroblastic sarcoma that Mickey had is extremely rare, and his doctor said he was “one in a million.”

Many sarcoma researchers must rely on private funding, because government funds are used for the more well-known cancers. At least 97% of donations in honor of Mickey will be used for peer-reviewed sarcoma research. We hope that this research will benefit the lives of countless people who face this disease, both now and in the future.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation in Mickey’s memory, please consider donate here