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Taking care of our family

Kathy and Richard Miyauchi
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Kathy and Richard Miyauchi are guided in life by a simple question. As Richard sat at his son Michael’s bedside in 2004, the teenager asked him, “How are you helping others? It is great that you give your money to help others, but how do you give of your hands and your heart?”

After fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for just over a year, Michael passed away at the age of 20. But his family continues to answer the question he posed more than a decade ago.

“Losing a child changes you,” says Kathy. “And you have a choice which way you want to change.” Inspired by Michael’s conviction to help others, Kathy and Richard established the Michael Miyauchi Foundation to support the causes Michael was passionate about, including cancer research.

For 15 years, they organized an annual golf fundraiser that benefitted cancer research at many local institutions, including Swedish. Now they volunteer with us every week: with Kathy giving her time at our cancer institute and Richard at our endoscopy and colonoscopy clinics.

“My husband and I have always donated to nonprofits,” says Kathy. “But the urgency, the passion behind it didn’t truly hit us until our son asked my husband that question.” Their personal gifts are made through a donor advised fund, where funds can be invested to grow tax-free and contributions are tax-deductible the year they are made.

“The staff at Swedish adopted us. So why wouldn’t we take care of our family?” –Kathy

Kathy remembers how a comment from Michael’s oncologist, Hank Kaplan, M.D., helped change her perspective on the time she had with her son. Days before he passed, when Kathy asked how much time he had left, Dr. Kaplan replied that Michael had outlived his expectation by months. “Dr. Kaplan helped me realize that I had received the gift of time,” says Kathy. “Michael wasn’t taken away from me, I was given the gift of 20 years.”

Because of the care Michael received, Kathy and Richard give to support Dr. Kaplan’s pioneering and collaborative cancer research.

Since they started giving to Dr. Kaplan’s research fund, they’ve enjoyed staying up-to-date with his work. “We get so excited when we hear about advances or new questions being asked,” says Kathy.“ Let’s get those questions answered. To see the incredible progress in cancer research and the improvements made in treating cancer since we lost Michael is so inspiring to us! If we can give the gift of hope to others, that sends us over the moon.”

For Kathy and Richard and their two daughters, everyone who helped take care of Michael is family.

“How do you pay back the love and support?” says Kathy. “They made us their family. They loved on us and cried with us.” “The staff at Swedish adopted us. So why wouldn’t we take care of our family?” Sixteen years later, Kathy is still in contact with many of Michael’s caregivers, including Dr. Kaplan. She looks forward to exchanging holiday cards each year and keeps in touch with many of the nurses who provided such great care to their entire family.  

Thanks to supporters like Kathy and Richard—and you—our patients have access to innovative health care and hope for a healthy tomorrow. To learn more about how your gift supports the Swedish Cancer Institute or how to make a gift through a donor advised fund, contact Senior Director of Philanthropy Jeff Walker at 206-386-3194 or jeff.walker@swedish.org.