Meet Michael

Michael was an affectionate tough guy with a great sense of humor. His toughness was evident in his athletic endeavors, but was most apparent in how he dealt with his cancer treatments.  After major brain surgery, his radiation and chemotherapy lasted throughout his fifth grade year. He chose to do his hospital chemo on the weekends so he wouldn’t have to miss school.  Many school days he would eat breakfast, then throw up … he would eat a second breakfast and go to school.  He only missed eight days of school in fifth grade.  Throughout his living with cancer he just wanted to be like any other kid.

Michael was also affectionate.  Part of what made him affectionate was the experience of being a twin, starting with seven months in the womb curled up next to Bridget (they were premies).  He really liked holding hands. Sometimes just sitting at the table talking, he would be holding your hand or touching your arm.

The very best thing about his sense of humor was his laugh. If something struck him as funny, usually his brother Ian the instigator, Michael’s hand would come up to his face and he would start laughing with reckless abandon.  There were many times at the dinner table when dinner would come to an abrupt halt while the family sat around laughing at Michael laughing.

To quote Michael’s favorite fictional hero, Albus Dumbledore, “To an organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” While Michael has gone before us to his next great adventure, he left us with so many wonderful memories and provided a stunning example of what is possible in this life.

Michael’s Master Plan

Michael Gustafson was nearing his 15th birthday when his mom recorded this video in a restaurant parking lot. By this point, Michael already knew he wasn’t going to beat brain cancer for himself. But he could beat it for someone else.

“I’m going to give up my life in order to see if we can find a cure.”

It was his idea to be a tissue donor. Michael called it his “master plan.” Earlier that day, Michael made a decision that gave him peace and purpose at the end of his life. While waiting for their ride, his mom recorded him talking about his decision on her phone.