ELYRIA — Before the story is told of how and why Alex Mishkin was able to walk into a local Best Buy store and pick out nearly anything he wanted, here’s what he got:
- Samsung Galaxy tablet
- Toshiba laptop
- Laptop backpack carrying case
- Keurig single-cup brewing system with extra single-cup beverages
- Portable DVD writer
- Wireless mouse
- Two miniature refrigerators
- A microwave
- 39- and 48-inch flat-screen, high-definition televisions.
It was quite the haul Thursday for the 18-year-old from Grafton — nearly $3,000 in merchandise when all was said and done.
“I did my research. I pretty much knew what I was coming to get,” he said.
Mishkin was sitting at a table in an employee-only room at the Elyria store with a bounty of Taco Bell tacos laid out in front of him. It’s his favorite fast food. So yeah, it made sense that he got a lot of those, too.
Now, let’s talk about why.
Thursday was Mishkin’s Make-A-Wish Day.
For eight long and sometimes grueling months, the day he could have the shopping spree of his dreams at the store was all he could think about as he sat in a hospital bed at the Cleveland Clinic with a diagnosis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma hanging over his head.
He knew making it through one more treatment, one more visit from a doctor and yet another day away from home would bring the now-18-year-old that much closer to wish day.
On Thursday, after he and his family were picked up in a black limousine courtesy of Touch of Class Limousine Service, Mishkin made his way to the Midway Mall store, where employees rolled out the red carpet for him.
James Cook, sales floor leader-turned-personal shopping assistant for the day, waited by the door. He was told the Mishkin family would show up about 11 a.m. A handmade sign welcoming Mishkin to the store was nearby.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., the family walked in.
Upon first glance, they looked like any other family coming to shop.
The only indication that Mishkin was there for something special came from his white T-shirt and blue backpack, both from the Make-A-Wish foundation, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“So, where do you start?” Cook said to prompt the spree.
The teen could have had just about any wish imaginable. But the Best Buy trip was ideal. He could get something cool for his entire family that way, he said.
“If they weren’t around, I don’t know what I would do,” he said. “I couldn’t go through that stuff by myself.”
While Mishkin shopped, his mother, Mary Beth Mishkin, lagged behind and talked a little about her son’s last year.
It started with pain — a lot of pain.
First the pain was in his chest, and a trip to the emergency room gave a diagnosis of inflammation around his sternum. He would get better, doctors said.
But Mishkin’s pain persisted. Multiple trips to the doctor gave no real answer. Finally after a second trip to the Cleveland Clinic, a biopsy was done. Mishkin had cancer.
“I will never forget the doctor saying he had cancer from his skull to his calves and inside his bone marrow,” Mary Beth Mishkin said. “But almost immediately, his oncologist gave us a lot of hope. He asked Alex about his goals and if he wanted to do to college.
He told him not to give up on those goals because they had a plan.”
Mary Beth Mishkin knew the pain of losing a loved one to cancer. Her sister died around that same time. She was buried on a Sunday. Alex Mishkin went into the hospital that Wednesday.
“It was hard, but we stayed positive, no matter what,” mom said. “We took it day by day and prayed all the time. We had a great team at the Cleveland Clinic that we trusted.”
Mishkin, according to his mother, was probably the strongest beacon of hope. It’s as if he knew immediately that he was beating the cancer.
“He was amazing,” she said. “When they told me and I was crying, it was Alex who comforted me. Then, he pulled out his phone and looked up everything he could find on lymphoma. His attitude was ‘Let’s do this so I can get on with my life.’”
Mishkin is in remission. It’s been four and a half months. If he can make it to his two-year anniversary, his doctors said the chances of the cancer returning are small.
As he grabbed pricey electronics Thursday, that far off date was not on his mind.
“I’m doing good — real good,” he said.
He’s planning to start classes at Lorain County Community College. He wants to study accounting.
That new laptop will come in handy.