Wadley High School
In her nomination of JaMichael Angel as a Young Hero, Wadley High School counselor Kathryn McElvy wrote, “JaMichael has always stood out as a student. He is a tremendous athlete. He especially excels in baseball, gaining recognition at the varsity level since he was in middle school. In the classroom, he works hard to maintain a good GPA; however, the quality that sets JaMichael apart from others is his attitude. He is a leader in every sense of the word. He carries his abilities into the community by speaking to youth groups, he developed and directed a youth camp for his church, and he tries to influence younger children by giving his time to be a youth sports coach.”
During football season of 2017, JaMichael began experiencing problems with his kidneys. He was diagnosed with kidney stones and urinary tract infections, both of which are extremely painful. Still, JaMichael kept playing through the pain.
Ms. McElvy continued, “On February 14, 2018, we received the news that no one wants to hear. For four months, JaMichael had been misdiagnosed. The doctors at Children’s of Alabama discovered that he had a free-floating tumor in his bladder and was battling Rhabdomyosarcoma. Later tests revealed the cancer was Stage 4.”
Sarcoma is a cancer of soft tissue (such as muscle), connective tissue (such as tendon or cartilage), or bone. Rhabdomyosarcoma usually begins in muscles that are attached to bones and that help the body move. Stage 4 meant that the cancer had spread from where it started to other body organs. This young man who had spent the last few weeks breaking in his glove for baseball season was now in the hospital for the foreseeable future facing both chemotherapy and radiation treatments. “Everyone was heartbroken,” Ms. McElvy wrote, “But JaMichael walked into that hospital with the same determination that he carries into everything he does.”
The first email Ms. McElvy received from JaMichael’s teacher at Children’s of Alabama relayed how he had already stolen the hearts of everyone at the hospital. He was determined to beat the cancer. In fact, JaMichael is the only patient that Children’s of Alabama has ever had with Rhabdomyosarcoma who gained weight while undergoing treatment. His tumor began to shrink ahead of schedule – and JaMichael was back on the baseball field in time for his senior year.
Throughout football season, JaMichael attended games and encouraged his teammates, refusing to stop being the leader that he is. Recently, he rang the bell at Children’s of Alabama, marking an end to his radiation treatments. Ms. McElvy added, “Soon, he will ring that bell again to show that chemotherapy is over, and he has won his fight.”
For his determination, strength and displayed leadership, JaMichael is recognized by his school and our state as one of the five 2019 Young Heroes of Alabama.
The Young Heroes Program is made possible through the support of: