As a child, Mike Ross went to Camp Care, a camp for children with cancer. Now 28, heâ€™s trying to give back as a volunteer counselor.
â€œThe camp really helped me a lot,â€ he said. â€œYou got to meet kids that were like you. They had cancer, and you could see they were having fun.â€
A tumor was discovered in Rossâ€™ brain when he was 11. He spent his sixth-grade year battling the illness.
â€œIt was a life or death situation,â€ he said. â€œIt was a big brain tumor.â€
After that experience, he feels a connection with campers at Camp Care, which operates out of Charlotte.
â€œI went through it, and I feel what those kids are feeling,â€ he said.
Ross had only been in the sixth grade for a month when he started getting splitting headaches. Soon, he was throwing up all the time.
â€œIt was rough,â€ he said.
He was soon admitted to the hospital and learned how serious his condition was. Even so, he doesnâ€™t remember being terribly scared.
â€œWhen youâ€™re a kid, you donâ€™t think about that stuff,â€ he said.
He did think about missing his friends and family and missing out on trick or treating. He spent Halloween getting candy from staff in the halls of the hospital.
His operation took place after he had been in the hospital a month. Following the procedure, he was held in intensive care.
â€œI just remember pieces,â€ he said. â€œI couldnâ€™t really see. I remember peopleâ€™s voices.â€
And while he survived the operation, he still had chemotherapy to face.
â€œChemoâ€™s probably the worst,â€ he said.
The one upside of his situation? Make-a-Wish Foundation helped him meet Michael Jordan.
â€œHeâ€™s a real cool dude,â€ Ross said.
Pictures of Ross and Jordan now sit above Rossâ€™ bed. He looks at them whenever heâ€™s feeling low and needs inspiration.
â€œThat really put a spark on my life,â€ he said.
Heâ€™s remained cancer-free throughout adulthood and hopes his presence is beneficial to the campers at Camp Care. He knows how difficult their lives can be.
â€œItâ€™s hard â€“ especially when youâ€™re coming up as a kid, and you see all these people looking at you,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s different.â€
Now a bona-fide adult with a job in retail, Ross proudly walks the Relay for Life Survivorâ€™s Lap.
His advice to those still afflicted?
â€œKeep going. Keep marching on,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re going to beat this. Weâ€™re going to stomp it down. Weâ€™re going to beat cancer.â€
by Sarah Grano