Like a typical 12-year-old boy, Edward Migliore loves to climb trees.
The thought this South Brunswick sixth grader – the son of Paul and Carol Migliore – could today pull himself up the branches of a neighborhood tree, however, would seem to be no short of a miracle to those who know his story.
Two years ago, two-thirds of Edward’s femur was removed after he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Following surgery, 14 rounds of chemo and more than a year of rehabilitation at Edward is out of his wheelchair and – most importantly – free of cancer.
His journey was literally taken one step at a time.
“When I first came to physical therapy, I couldn’t have really walked without someone being right next to me while I was on my crutches,” Edward said. During surgery, most of his cancerous femur was replaced by a metallic rod. “By the last treatment (about a year later), I needed no crutches, no cane … nothing.”
According to physical therapist (and co-founder) of Jersey Physical Therapy, Marc Rubenstein, physical therapy played a vital role in more than building strength, flexibility, comfort and improving function in Edward’s right leg. It also served to maintain Edward’s strength and stamina through his final chemo treatments – a common benefit physical therapy offers patients of all ages and various types of cancer.
“We’ve helped a number of patients with cancer restore strength and functionality,” Rubenstein said. “There’s a large population that can benefit from these physical therapy treatments, and perhaps it’s underutilized.”
In Edward’s case, physical therapy also offered him a sense of empowerment.
“That’s really how I felt,” he said. “There were so many complications with surgery and chemo treatments, but with physical therapy, I could have at least some control over my health.”
Edward said his initial prognosis suggested he’d do little more than walk following surgery. But today, he’s climbing trees again, an activity he says “gives me a whole new perspective on things.”
Coincidentally, Edward’s journey from patient to survivor is one that has offered a fresh perspective to those around him, including the Jersey Physical Therapy staff members who worked with him for more than a year to restore a sense of normalcy in his life. Jersey Physical Therapy had already been long-time supporter of the Hugs for Brady Foundation, a local group that helps children (and their families) who are dealing with childhood cancer.
Edward was recently honored as a survivor at this year’s Hugs for Brady Foundation winter gala, an event at which his father, Paul, was asked to speak. Paul took the occasion to offer some sobering facts about pediatric cancer:
- One in 320 kids will be diagnosed with cancer, with 40 kids diagnosed each day. Of these 40 children, seven will not survive the battle.
- Just 3 percent of all funds raised for cancer research goes toward the research of childhood cancer.