It’s hard to imagine someone with a more perfect disposition to handle life’s challenges than 14-year-old Mickey Deputy. And life has handed her plenty. Mickey was born with Down Syndrome and several holes in her heart that required careful repairs performed by Dr. John Brown, Riley Cardiovascular Surgeon. Then, at age 7, Mickey was diagnosed with leukemia. How did she feel about the cancer?
“I liked the treatment but not the cancer part,” Mickey smiles. She especially liked the friends she made at Riley. Mickey found unexpected joy in moments many cancer patients find difficult - like losing her hair. “One time I grabbed a handful of hair and threw it at Mom and Dad!” Mickey demonstrated with her hands like a confetti toss. “It was fun!”
During her stays on Riley’s cancer floor, Mickey bonded with staff members, including a nurse named Julie. “I have a special dance about Julie,” Mickey shares with a sly smile.
“I would do this every time I see Julie!” Mickey points her fingers into the air, first to one side, then the other, shaking her body and grinning ear to ear.
Her mother, Jenny Deputy, says Mickey proved she could do a lot even when confined to bed. “One day she started kicking, and she’s sick in bed, and I said, ‘What are you doing?!’ And she said, ‘I’m kicking cancer’s butt!’” Jenny says that became the family’s motto.
Today, Mickey has kicked her own cancer, but she isn’t finished fighting. She’s an enthusiastic supporter of dance marathons on Indiana college campuses, including IU, Ball State, Butler, and Purdue. Mickey says she loves to dance to “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and “Firework” by Katy Perry. But her parents say their favorite part is watching her tell her story.
“I see a miracle on the stage,” Jenny says with awe in her eyes as she gazes at her daughter. “The fact that she survived open heart surgery and leukemia - everything about her is a miracle. According to most people she shouldn’t be able to get up on stage and convey these thoughts. But she does. She doesn’t know there are limits.”
Mickey is now spearheading a dance marathon at her own school, Christel House Academy in Indianapolis.
Her brother, Brad, and her parents are active Riley volunteers. “We appreciate everything that people do for Riley,” says Jenny, “because we firmly believe without them we would not have our daughter.”
Mickey’s biggest wish is to see more young Riley supporters begin dance marathons at their schools. “I believe anyone can do this!” Mickey says. “It’s great and awesome!”