New Castle News

June 6, 2012

Super Grad 2: Leukemia survivor eyes new chapter

Tory Irwin
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — For many graduating high school seniors, the future is a scary thing.

For Mikael Pridon, it’s the most exciting adventure of his life.

After all, the Mohawk High senior already has survived scary.

Three years ago, Pridon underwent his last chemotherapy session, capping a 3 1/2 year battle with leukemia. He had been diagnosed in 2006 with acute lymphoblastic leulemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.

What followed was more than three years of missed school, monthly chemotherapy sessions, daily oral chemotherapy, weekly blood counts and periodic spinal taps. He also had multiple hospital stays, including one 17-day stretch in August 2006 when he had a reaction to one of the chemo drugs and contracted a liver disease.

Once he returned to school, though, Pridon never dwelled on his struggle.

He was involved in National Honor Society, Spanish Club and Peer Leaders, and served not only as the secretary of Student Council but also as a two-year president of Future Business Leaders of America.

Outside of school, Pridon found time for a job at Sears and volunteer projects, like helping with fundraiser dinners and volunteering with the youth program at his church.

Now, he’s ready to face the future head on, preparing himself for four years at New York University, where he plans on majoring in hotel and tourism management.

Leaving rural Pennsylvania for life in the big city is one of the more attractive prospects for Pridon. After making his first solo trip to New York a few months ago to check out the school, he knew the city was the right fit for him.

“I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that New York City offers,” said Pridon, who joins his classmates tonight in receiving their diplomas a thte Scottish Rite Cathedral. “We don’t have much around here but there, there’s endless possibilities that you can pursue.”

Another plus is the change in study materials. Pridon has an intense love of travel, and intends to work hard so he can provide the experience he loves for others.

“I just think that the whole leisure aspect of travel is awesome. I know that’s not what I’m going to be doing, but I’m going to be providing that for other people. It’s just meant so much to me growing up. I love everything to do with travel, and I want to create that experience for other people.”

As he reflects on the past, Pridon notes the only thing he wishes he’d done differently would have been to attend more sporting events for the social experience. And maybe not have come down with such a bad case of senioritis.

To the underclassmen, he offers these words of wisdom: “Be involved. Don’t segregate yourself away from others, because eventually you’re going to need help with stuff, and you’re going to need separate people’s help, and if you don’t make yourself available and be friendly with everyone, then they won’t be there for you when you need help.”