Without My Son. . .
Michael Muriett first came in contact with TCAF on August 22, 2012, just two short days after losing his 19 year old son Justin to TC. He will gladly tell you that he thinks it is no coincidence that when searching for a foundation to ask people to donate money to in lieu of flowers for his son that TCAF was the first result he came upon. He will also tell you that mere moments into that first conversation with Kim Jones, that he knew he had found the right foundation, with the right person, and the right cause. Michael told Kim that afternoon that whenever he was ready, he wanted to be more involved. Over the next 12 months, his involvement has steadily grown until this past summer, when he was appointed the National Director of Education for TCAF. Spend a few minutes talking to Michael about TCAF and you will have no doubt about how passionate he is about the organization and the cause itself.
Michael’s Son Justin was diagnosed the Monday before Thanksgiving in November of 2011 at the age of nineteen. The original rush to the emergency room was because of back pain, but within hours it became a late stage Testicular Cancer diagnosis. Mere days after his original surgery, Justin was in the emergency room again when a tumor on his spine was compressing the cord and rendered him paralyzed from the waist down. Justin attacked his chemotherapy and his physical therapy with the heart of a champion. Within months he was learning to walk again using only a cane, and was on the “home stretch” of radiation therapy. Then things took a dramatic turn when new tumors were found on his liver and lungs. After a consultation with one of the leading authorities on TC in the country, his family was faced with the news no one wants to hear; Justin’s condition was now terminal. On August 20th, 2012 after waging a hero’s fight against this disease, Justin could fight no longer.Michael will tell you that before this, they had no idea this was a young man’s disease. He will also tell you that honoring his son’s memory and the desire to prevent other families from having to go through what his family did is his driving force in spreading the awareness message for TCAF.
Michael’s vision of the education program for TCAF is simple. He wants to reach as many people in our target audience as possible, and through several different means. He doesn’t want another parent to have to endure losing a child. There are qualified doctors all over the country that can help treat this disease, but he believes that his mission starts well before the treatment stage. His goal is to alleviate the stigma of young men being too embarrassed or not wanting to talk about this very real threat to their health. This mission requires putting in place several things. First of all, he envisions education and awareness taught in our junior high and high schools around the country. Second, he wants that same awareness spread amongst other youth organizations, health clubs, doctor’s offices, and beyond. Michael says “I see us creating a network of survivors around the country that can go out and educate the masses using their REAL experiences. My vision includes being a part of music festivals, sporting events, and conferences around the country.” His mantra is awareness, early detection, and saving lives through EDUCATION!