Michael's Fund 4 a CURE

Michael Mugrage was born in Kauai, Hawaii and lived there his first 12 years before relocating to Bluffton, SC. He was a son, big brother, friend, honorary Bluffton police officer, and football fan. Michael was known for his great sense of humor (even during treatment) and for always flashing a Shaka – a hand gesture residents of Hawaii use to convey the Aloha Spirit. It is a sign of friendship, compassion, and respect.

At the age of 15, Michael was by all means a typical high school teenager. He liked playing Xbox, loved football (and a huge fan of Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers), was looking forward to getting his driver’s license, and was taking classes to pursue a future career in law enforcement. But he was getting thin, and complained of severe leg pain, abdominal pain, and headaches. A doctor’s visit said it was just growing pains. Days later Michael was in urgent care with a collapsed lung. Two hospital transfers via ambulance in a matter of hours and several tests later would bring devastating news: Michael had a large mass that they were confident was cancer and he would need surgery for a biopsy. The result came back as high-risk (stage 4) alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), an aggressive soft tissue cancer with the majority of cases affecting children below the age of 18.

Michael endured months of high-intensity chemotherapy treatments, surgery to remove the mass, and the lifetime amount of radiation to his lung and abdomen. For a while the treatment seemed to work, and Michael was counting down his remaining treatments with hopes of remission and returning to high school. Unfortunately, eight months into treatment the cancer returned with a vengeance and Michael was given days to live. There are no current options when the standard protocol fails. Michael accepted his fate and asked to enroll in a trial to help other children, even after being told it would not help him. An appointment was made, but his health deteriorated quickly leaving him unable to travel for the trial. His dying wish was to leave a legacy of raising funds for pediatric cancer research, naming CURE Childhood Cancer, so that other children after him have more effective, less toxic treatments, and hope for life. Michael passed away on August 28, 2018 at the age of 16.

Purpose of the Fund

Today’s standard treatments do not always work for children. The primary purpose of the Michael’s Fund 4 a CURE is to fund pediatric cancer research through precision medicine – which brings personalized medicine and a second chance to children for whom the standard protocol is ineffective… children like Michael.


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