Levin, whose blog inspired thousands, dies
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Laura Berman / The Detroit News
Miles Alpern Levin, whose on-line writings about his fight
against cancer inspired and moved thousands of readers, died early this
morning at home in Bloomfield Township.
Two years ago, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a
rare pediatric cancer of the soft tissues.
After the diagnosis in June 2005, he consciously made his
ensuing battle with the deadly cancer into his life's work. He
reinvented himself, growing quickly from a funny and forgetful teen
into a conscientious student and a writer who acquired an international
At the June commencement ceremonies, Miles, 18, urged his
classmates to seek justice in the world. "If my struggle with cancer
galvanizes actions of goodness," he told them, " I can rest assured
that even if I succumb to the rogue cells I will leave behind a legacy
of victory. Dying is not what scares me. It's dying and having had no
He willingly endured severe pain and torturous chemotherapy
treatments -- excruciating nausea, weakness, and pain -- trading off
weeks of sick days for a few good ones. His passion for life was
matched only by his insistence that it be a good life, a meaningful
one. What the world most needs, he said in his last days, is "more
On the Cranbrook Schools campus, he became an outsized
object of admiration and awe. Students wore t-shirts honoring one of
his sayings ("Keep fighting, stop struggling"), and organized a
fund-raising walk in his honor.
Although few of his thousands of blog readers had ever met
him, they wrote using adjectives of awe, describing him as a teacher
and themselves, most often, as "grateful" to hear his lessons. He
compared his life to a golfer swinging gaily at a bucket of golf balls,
until only a few remain. "Now with just a handful left," he wrote,
"each swing becomes more meaningful."
Over the last year, he won several awards, including the
Sarcoma Foundation of America's Leadership & Courage Award for
2008. Accepting the award, he said, "The universe is more cruel and
random than we would like it to be," calling childhood sarcoma a "total
But that knowledge never made him bitter.
"I just have to keep going, to search for a higher meaning,"
he said. To do so was a way to squeeze more out of life, and vanquish
He tried to think of cancer as a gift. "I am living more
richly than I ever was before cancer, so if I die, will it have been
worth it just to get these years of superliving?" he asked at one point.
Mostly, he wanted to live as well as he possibly could. He
strived, consciously, for saintliness -- an uncommon aspiration for an
affluent 21st century American teen.
Although he was mature beyond his years, he was young and
idealistic enough to imagine he could be a beacon of light and wisdom
And he was.
How to help
The family of Miles Levin has set up a tax-exempt memorial fund to
support efforts to fight pediatric cancer as well as providing a
"vehicle to create new directions in patient care." Send contributions
UJF -- Miles Alpern Levin Fund
P.O. Box 2030
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303
Attn: Susie Feldman
It's like... yeah.