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Michigan High School Band Serenades Young Cancer Patient

March 14, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ The 130 members of a high school band from Michigan sang the school fight song Sunday to a schoolmate who has been waging his own fight against bone cancer.

Members of the Belding High School band and about 95 parents made the surprise visit to the University of Chicago’s Wyler Children’s Hospital, where they sang the band’s theme song, ″Friends,″ to Eddie Mikek as he emerged from an elevator in his wheelchair.

″There wasn’t a dry eye in the whole building,″ said Eddie’s mother, Janice Mikek.

″He didn’t know they were coming, and it took him a minute or two to figure out what was happening,″ she said. ″Then he started crying like all the rest of us.″

The band was on its way to Dublin, Ireland, to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and the musicians decided to stop at the hospital on the way to O’Hare International Airport.

They sang to Eddie because their instruments were packed up for the trip. ″Eddie’s not a band member but he is a good friend,″ said band director Bob Stiles. ″We just want to remind him that he’s one of us and show our love and concern.″

Eddie was diagnosed as having bone cancer Dec. 10, a day after his 17th birthday, Mrs. Mikek said. Before his illness, the high school junior stayed busy helping at his parents’ grocery store and working a part-time job at a hardware store.

After the diagnosis, he was able to attend school several days a week between chemotherapy treatments, Mrs. Mikek said, but schoolwork had to stop when he came to Chicago for surgery.

The family had to sell the store, said Mrs. Mikek in a telephone interview from the Ronald McDonald House, where she stays when she is visiting Eddie.

On March 4, doctors at the hospital removed a bone tumor from Eddie’s left leg and implanted part of a femur taken from a cadaver. They also installed a mechanical knee joint. The relatively new surgical technique, called limb salvage, avoids amputation, and should allow Eddie eventually to walk normally, Mrs. Mikek said.

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