For Mike Neeson, any day on the golf course is a great day.
Mike had rarely seen a doctor before the spring of 2008 when the 45-year-old husband and father began having digestive problems. A colonoscopy revealed a large mass in his lower colon.
Dr. David Rothenberger, colorectal surgeon at University of Minnesota Health and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, confirmed the diagnosis and even worse, that the cancer had spread to Mike’s seminal vesicle, prostate, and lungs.
Mike underwent eight weeks of simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation, and then an 11-hour surgery to remove his rectum, seminal vesicle, prostate, and bladder. Just as Mike was adjusting to life with colostomy and urostomy bags, he started another 26-week round of chemo.
Mike enjoyed two good years before he developed a persistent cough—one of the four tumor’s in his lungs had started to grow. Mike underwent a partial lobectomy to remove the tumor and then started yet another 26-week round of chemo to prevent the other tumors from growing.
Through it all, Mike has maintained his optimism. ”Getting a little dose of your mortality is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. He and his wife, Patty, now fundraise for colon cancer research at the Masonic Cancer Center. To show his gratitude to his care team, Mike regularly speaks to others facing similar treatments— to reassure them that life isn’t over.
For Mike, it’s far from over. He boats, bikes, skis, and golfs, just as he did before cancer.
Mike’s golf buddies have welcomed him back to the course with open arms—first asking how he’s doing, then asking about his golf game.
“I’d say, ‘It’s perfect! I haven’t hit a bad shot all year,’” Mike quipped. “Then they’d kind of roll their eyes. I try to tell people—it could go in the sand trap, it could go out of bounds, it could go in the water…there are no bad shots.”