Michael Moyles was a Captain in the US Air Force who had a bright and promising military career ahead of him. But when he was 27 years old, he was injured in a way that would completely change his life.
While stationed in St. Louis, he played basketball for a small city league. During a championship title defense, Moyles accidentally butted heads with another player which made him lose consciousness for 30 seconds and temporarily paralyzed his right arm.
A CT scan didn’t show any serious injury so Moyles was allowed to go home the next evening. As a precaution, they decided to do an MRI scan and when the results came in, everything started to go downhill.
Moyles soon heard the bone-chilling phrase: “Mike, we’ve found something.” A year of tests and visits to the doctor followed until the diagnosis came in: astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer.
Moyles recalls that he had just proposed to his then-girlfriend Angie when the diagnosis came out. “Accepting the proposal of a healthy, young, strong, up-and-coming Air Force officer, she now found herself engaged to a terminally ill cancer patient,” he said. However, they still got married six months after his diagnosis.
But things didn’t look too bright for the newly married couple. Doctors had only given him 6 years to live, perhaps 8 years tops. But that was more than 20 years ago.
April 28, 2001, was their first wedding anniversary and also the time that Moyles underwent his first surgery. Neurosurgeon Dr. Keith Black and his team extracted a 2.8 cm tumor from his right frontal lobe. Luckily although that part of the brain is responsible for memory, personality, and language, Moyles undergo any significant changes and recovered within the next 6 months.
He went into remission for 4 years but a check-up in the spring of 2005 revealed that the cancer was back. “Larger, faster-growing, and more aggressive, this time we couldn’t watch it for a year to see what it was doing,” Moyles explained.
He went under the knife again but with the tumors reoccurring, doctors advised chemotherapy. “This is a word that will strike fear into the heart of even the most hardened patient, and I was no exception,” Moyles added.
After several months of chemotherapy, Moyles discovered that exercise, particularly running, made him feel better. Even as he was undergoing chemotherapy Moyles ran his first marathon.
However, even after finishing chemotherapy, cancer still returned, so oncologists recommended another round of chemo. The next 10 months saw Moyles continue with chemotherapy, run two more marathons, and have a daughter. But despite everything, his cancer proved resistant to the treatment and Moyles had no choice but to undergo surgery again.
What followed next wasn’t easy. Several medical complications resulted in part of his skull being removed. But the chemo, surgery, and radiation were at least keeping his cancer at bay and allowing him to last another day.
He took up running again and created “Team Michael Moyles.” “My brother-in-law, Clint Janson, and I started the team in 2008, and by 2012 had raised almost $100,000 through running raises, giving motivations speeches, silent auctions, and a number of other endeavors,” he said.
Moyles’ inspiring story came to light when his nephew, Søren Janson, shared his story on Reddit. It quickly gained almost 17k upvotes and 721 comments. “In my opinion, the best quality is his undying faith and perseverance, and absolutely refusing to give up,” Søren said.
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