After feeling pain in his leg for a few months, Wish Kid Michael—a previously active, joyful, and hopeful seventeen-year-old—suddenly felt his world crash down around him.
A stage 2 Ewing’s Sarcoma diagnosis immediately threatened his life; ten days later, he found himself receiving aggressive chemotherapy for up to eight hours a day every other week. Michael went from being active, involved in school, and planning for his future to being completely dependent on those around him for even the simplest of tasks. In his words, “The active, confident, and independent version of myself had been washed away in a torrent of chemicals and toxins. I was relegated to a wheelchair to move as my femur had been crushed under the weight of the tumor.”
Michael ultimately underwent surgery for a partial hip replacement to remove the tumor and replace his femur with a titanium rod. After surgery, another twenty six rounds of chemotherapy, and what seemed like endless days in the hospital, Michael finally received good news of being in remission. It felt as though he had been given a second chance at life, and he was determined to make it count.
In the summer of 2016 as a college student studying architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, Michael rode his bike 4,000 miles across the country for cancer research with Texas 4000. He was determined to use his wish to promote this amazing charity race: Michael wished to have a press junket for the Texas 4000 bike ride. Las Vegas Weekly covered Michael’s progress when he and a team of 66 other cyclists put in 80 miles a day during an epic cross-country adventure. Rosalie Spear’s article said, “(His wish) generated national press coverage along the Texas 4000 route and support the goal of funding research. With over 18,000 Instagram followers, Tatalovich is furthering awareness even more, posting photos and stories along the way.”
“Already I can feel that this could be the perfect bookend in some ways to that chapter of my life,” Michael said in Las Vegas Weekly. “I’m being empowered from showing other people that survivorship can be very successful to them as well. I’ve noticed the personal growth of finding closure and becoming at peace with this.”
Now 21, Michael continues his studies in architecture at UT, and he is minoring in both business and computer science. After graduation, he plans to go into urban design and wants to use statistics and responses from people to make data-driven design decisions. He and his sister Nikki, who is on the team at Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, plan to take a five city tour of Europe in the winter of 2017. Michael is happy to serve as an ambassador of Make-A-Wish, as he shares that “during my treatments, the element of hope that my wish provided might be the difference between surviving and not.” Wishes do matter!