Teen w/ brain cancer 4 times fights against the disease and turns grad party into a fundraiser
5:55 PM, May 10, 2013
CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) - A 17-year-old Canton teen battling brain cancer almost his whole life was getting ready to celebrate being 10 years cancer free this year when doctors found another tumor.
Now he's using his graduation party from high school to fight back against the disease.
"I like music," said Max Merget as he pumped the base from his stereo system in his car. An amplifier system he installed himself. "I've been through a lot in my life, so I can relate to a lot of music," he said.
Merget said he often catches people staring at the scar on his head.
"Sometimes I'll tell them stories, like I took a candy bar from my sister when I was yay high and the rest was just a blur," said Max.
The 17-year-old was just a child at the time, but the story is a lot more complicated.
"Max was 3 years old, his hand was shaking a little bit. I thought he had a pinched nerve," said his mother Nina Merget.
Doctors found a tumor and diagnosed Max with brain cancer.
He had surgery immediately, but the tumor came back the next year when he was 4 years old and then again at age 7.
His father said that was the first time Max could understand and ask questions about brain cancer.
"Am I going to die? He asked me that question directly," said Rob Merget. "I said, the cancer won't kill you right now. I said, we are all going to die at some point, but the cancer you have, as far as we have it, you are going to be fine."
Max was cancer free for 10 years. Then this past January the high school senior's cancer came back for fourth time.
"So that was a big let-down kind of. Ten years clean but it came back," said Max.
The Canton teen made sure it didn't stop him from living his life and started up a nonprofit called Max Your Brain.
The organization benefits brain cancer research at U of M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
The hospital is where Max was treated as a child and where his doctor works to improve medicines and treatments.
Even though Max is not done with classes at Salem High School until the end of the month, he is having his graduation party Friday night to benefit brain cancer research. Max has asked people not bring him graduation gifts, but rather donate to his non-profit Max Your Brain.
"I am a cancer patient and there's many others at Mott right now, like little kids. I feel their pain and I know what they go through," said Max.
He is undergoing radiation treatments while looking forward to graduation from high school and attending Grand Valley State University in the fall. Max hopes his organization can raise awareness, and maybe even one day help find a cure for him and all kids.
"I don't know who I would be without cancer, but I love who I am with it," said Max.
If you want to know more about Max and his non-profit, you can visit his website here: www.maxyourbrain.org