Playing for Mia

By Lucas Barlow

Sports Editor

Hutchinson Community College sophomore Jayde Miyamoto spends most of her waking hours practicing or competing for the Blue Dragons’ soccer team. Although Miyamoto is busy juggling classes and practice, she has to be enjoying herself at the moment – her team is currently 12-1-1, and sit second place in the conference.

However, Miyamoto can remember a time when life wasn’t so joyful and exciting.

In 2015 Miyamoto was in her last semester of high school. She was also finishing up her last year on the Topeka Hayden’s soccer team, a team that made three state-tournament appearances in her four years.

Miyamoto was also in the hospital with her sister and teammate, 15 year-old Mia Miyamoto who tore her ACL during a practice session. A few weeks later, Mia was in the hospital again, this time for chest pains. After a series of tests, the doctor announced some of the worsts words a family could hear – Mia had terminal cancer. She was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. The family was in shock.

“We just didn’t believe it,” Miyamoto said.

The doctor told Mia she only had a short time to live and did not recommend chemotherapy. Ignoring that recommendation, Mia decided to undergo chemo straight away, telling the world that she was a fighter and she wasn’t giving up easily.

Seasons changed, and Miyamoto moved to Hutchinson in the fall to begin her freshman year of college. Mia continued the therapy into 2016 and had well outlived the initial three months the doctors gave her.

Only weeks into the second semester, Miyamoto decided to move back to her hometown to be with her mother and sister and support them. She enrolled in online classes through HutchCC in order to keep her scholarship. In March, Mia had her last treatment – almost one year after being diagnosed. For almost seven months, the cancer was in remission. But grief struck once again in October when Mia found a lump on her body. Another one was found in November. Surgery was used to remove it. On Christmas Eve, a third was discovered. Afterward, Mia announced she didn’t wish to continue treatment.

On Jan. 25, Mia Miyamoto died.

She had battled cancer for nearly two years.

“I’ve always looked up to her even though she was my younger sister,” Miyamoto said. “Mia was fun, smart, and honestly one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.”

Sharing the playing field with Mia was one of Miyamoto’s favorite experiences with her sister.

“Being her teammate and being able to play with her and teach her new things meant a lot to me,” Miyamoto said.

This fall, Jayde returned to HutchCC to start her sophomore year on the team. As she plays her final season, she wants to continue her soccer career, and attend the University of Kansas to further her business major. Although her sister is gone, Miyamoto still thinks about Mia all the time.

“I know she’s up there looking after me, so it’s nice having her to think about during every game,” Miyamoto said. “She really encourages me to do my best.”

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