A cancer battle, a cold morning, a personal goal reached

 

My friend Mike is waging an on-going war against an internal, unseen enemy. Cancer has been attacking him relentlessly off and on since 2012, first in the form of colon cancer, then in his liver and some lymph nodes, and now most recently in his lungs. But Mike fights back, his faith and family supporting him, his medical doctors and specialists fueling his body for the battle.

We recently featured a story Mike shared of feeling well enough last year to make a multi-day ride through the south Texas hill country with his brother Doug astride a pair of Indian Scouts. It was a very personal goal he’d set for himself, and he most certainly achieved it, little brother at his side. In this very brief but poignant tale, Mike recounts another, somewhat odd goal he recently achieved, and we at Road Dirt felt someone out there might find encouragement in this. If you or someone you know is locked in mortal combat with some form of cancer or deadly illness, may Mike’s fight and faith bring inspiration.

Bundled up and ready to cold-roll.

I am sure that to many of the passing motorists in vehicles that day, my name was “Crazy”. But this was a day that I had been looking forward to. Two years ago, this ride would have been impossible. The chemo treatment that I had been subjected to was very potent, as it was used to shrink and kill the cancerous tumor on my liver. One of its side effects was that it HIGHLY increased my body’s sensitivity to cold. For about 10 days during each 14 day infusion cycle, I could not touch anything cold without it causing severe pain in my hands and fingers. I had to wear gloves to open cold car door handles or pull any food from the freezer. If I drank anything cold, it felt like broken glass going down my throat. But my current chemo is different. I don’t have this sensitivity to cold anymore, thankfully, just other minor side effects.

The day’s sub-freezing temperature was something I had honestly been waiting for. Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I have ridden in colder temps as have most of my motorcycle riding friends and family (i.e. our son Ryan who lives in Alaska). This day’s ride was a short-term goal that I had set for myself since it has been several years since I had ridden in conditions this cold. With God’s presence, provisions, and protection, I set about reaching this new goal. In a below-freezing morning temp of 27 degrees, 19 including the wind chill, I suited up, warmed the Scout, pulled on my full-face modular helmet, and set out in the frigid yet sunny morning air. I’ve never used or owned electric heated riding gear, so I had heavily layered up for the short ride out through the local countryside. Layers of thermals top and bottom, a balaclava underneath the helmet to ensure my face wouldn’t get frostbitten, it nearly took me longer to prepare for the ride than to actually make it.

It was a chilly ride for this Georgia boy.

My goal was a short ride out in the chilly morning, about a 10-12 mile loop from my house, just a 15 minute motorcycle ride down backcountry roads. The ride was quiet and empty, and bundled like an Eskimo, I rode in perfect morning peace. Even riding that short distance, my fingers and toes were really hurting by the time I started to swing back toward home. Yet I felt a deep satisfaction that I had done it, I’d braved the cold again and ridden through it, like prior to all my cancer struggles. The coldest I had ever ridden before was in 2010, to a local CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) chapter meeting in Loganville, Georgia near me, and that had been in 23 degrees. With a thankful heart and chattering teeth, I pulled the Scout back into the garage and hastily shuffled back into our warm home. It had been a brief excursion, but a big milestone for me. 

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence carried out immediately. If you have friends or family (or yourself) that are battling with cancer, encourage them to live each day to the fullest (words cannot express my appreciation to my biggest encourager, my wife Lena). Let them know they are not alone in their fight. Tell them God is with them. Encourage them to set goals to strive for. Tell them to keep living.

My next goal is to still be around when my new grandsons are born in April and June!

Now for a hot cup of coffee and a warm shower.

Mike Hinton

*If you’ve found Mike’s story (and his previous trip) encouraging and inspiring, please comment below, leave us a few stars below the comments, and share it with someone else who might find it helpful. #RideLife #nottodaycancer 

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2 Comments

  1. Andrew O'Brien

    This hits home!
    I’m a second time Cancer survivor… Just barely!

    I was so sick they cancelled my last Chemotherapy session but I finally got strong enough to pull through.

    Couple of months later I finally got up the nerves and energy to throw my leg over the bike and put about 15 kms.

    I’ve been cancer free since 2017.

    Paradise, Newfoundland Canada

    Reply
    • Rob Brooks

      Andrew, so glad this inspired you, and happy to learn you are still cancer-free!
      Mike’s story hits home with me as well, since (1) we’re close friends and (2) I’m a 3-time bladder cancer survivor myself.
      Prayers for your continued health!

      Reply

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