MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS- - With a name that symbolizes strength, Athena Mericsko says it took just one word to shake her to her core.
"It took me by surprise," said Mericsko. "I was training for a marathon."
Diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012, Mericsko says she was taking things day by day. Her rigorous treatment included multiple blood transfusions, 48 arsenic treatments and three rounds of chemotherapy.
"We tried to keep very positive try to keep very hopeful about everything," said Mericsko. "We were just trying to take it one step at a time."
The doctor who remained by her side is the director of the Leukemia Program at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres. Who often joked about the best way patients could say thank you.
"I always joke, gee, you should name the baby after me," said Dr. Sekeres. "No one has ever taken me up on that."
Mericsko is the one patient he says never heard the joke, the only one to his knowledge to make it a reality. After the years-long journey towards health, Mericsko was able to accomplish the one thing she always wanted.
Her son Henry now four months has two middle names, one to honor a beloved family member the other is Mikkael, after the doctor who helped make his life possible.
"There as this overwhelming sense of responsibility all of a sudden, that I really had to live up to something," said Dr. Sekeres with a laugh. "To earn this baby having his name the same as mine."
A doctor turned friend, who Mericsko says, will forever be woven into the fabric of her family and she continues to give thanks for all he helped her accomplish.
"It's definitely a life that my spouse and I are very grateful for," said Mericsko. "We definitely are sure to give thanks every day for it. We don't take any days for granted. and we really feel that we have lucked out."
This December marks six years since Mericsko's cancer went into remission.