VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A teenager who fought valiantly against bone cancer for more than five years has reached the end of her fight — leaving behind a legacy with her powerful personal testimony.
On Tuesday night, 10 On Your side reported the death of 15-year-old Michaeyla Nadeau.
10 On Your Side profiled Michaeyla during our Crush Cancer campaign last year.
The teen lost her leg to bone cancer, but she didn’t give up her fight, even in the end.
Michaeyla died Tuesday around 5:45 p.m. Her family allowed WAVY News reporter Andy Fox to come and say goodbye earlier in the afternoon. Michaeyla had severely labored breathing, but she was still fighting until the end.
“She was getting ready to leave us, so we all gathered around her, held on tight, and said our goodbyes,” her father, Mike Nadeau, said.
She’s now at peace, but her powerful words live on.
“I count my blessings and remember the things I’m thankful for,” Michaeyla said in April 2019. “I have three healthy sisters, and a cute dog running around, and a mom and dad that love me.”
We first met Michaeyla in October 2015, almost a year into what would become a five-year battle to save herself from osteosarcoma — the most common type of bone cancer usually found near the knees.
We invited Michaeyla to the WAVY-TV studios and spoke to her about her fight. Her journey with cancer at such a young age made her wise beyond her years.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, so I feel like it could happen to anyone, and it just happened to me, but that is OK,” she said. “I just have to deal with it everyday, and get through it and I know I will.”
Michaeyla exuded inspiration, courage, strength and love. Last April, she took Andy Fox to Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach.
“It is a representation of my battle, and the fight against cancer, and it is a huge accomplishment for me to climb this mountain,” she said at the time.
“This was Michaeyla’s favorite place,” her father, Nadeau, told WAVY News Wednesday.
He went back to climb Mount Trashmore to remember, to ponder the greatness had passed with Michaeyla.
“This represented her cancer journey which was an ever-upward battle…She did it with a smile, and it was amazing… No matter how tough the decisions were … like to amputate her leg … she took it in stride… She fought hard until the end, and she never gave up,” her father said.
Michaeyla was active helping spread the word to Crush Cancer. She was with WAVY last May cycling to help raise money for research to find cures for childhood cancers like hers.
“So that is how I basically look at it,” she once told a class at Alanton Elementary, where she went to school. “Just because I have one leg doesn’t make me any different… I lost my hair first. I grew it back, and after my hair was in, I then lost my leg. I can’t tell you what is more scary. People will look at you either way.”
It was Mount Trashmore where she felt most comfortable with her family, including her three sisters.
“What we do is walk up there as a family, and when we get up there, we lay down, and take in all the beauty,” she said.
As Nadeau climbed Mount Trashmore to remember Michaeyla Wednesday, he remembered the words Michaeyla herself would say.
“She would always say, ‘Life is not going to wait around on you, and you shouldn’t wait around for it,'” he said.
While at the top of Mount Trashmore, Nadeau asked WAVY News to give him a minute so he could lay down on top of the hill — like Michaeyla did back in April.
Left behind are the memories of an inspirational teenage force that told children at Alanton Elementary to persevere.
“You have got to keep fighting, and really stay strong because that’s what I do everyday in my battle,” Michaeyla told her classmates.
Over the years, we have lost all three of our Crush Cancer children to their cancers. Crushing Cancer is close to Andy Fox’s heart: It’s a charitable cause that benefits the nationwide effort Cycle for Survival. Each year, WAVY highlights a local person’s fight against cancer and asks for donations in the name of their stationary cycling team.
We lost Ben Goldberg who helped us crush cancer in 2016.
We lost Landon Sanderl who was with us in 2017.
We just lost Michaeyla who was with us in 2019.
WAVY News will be crushing cancer again in May. We hope you will join us in the battle to Crush Cancer.