Two-time cancer survivor shares story of surviving and thriving with hopes of helping others
Michael Patterson was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008. Since then he's competed in multiple marathons and triathlons.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) –-Behind his every step and every training session is a story of inspiration.
“I'll train for 4 or 5 hours a day,” Michael Patterson said. “Generally I'll train four days a week.”
From racing in marathons, Ironmans, and Olympic triathlons, you would never know Michael Patterson is a two-time cancer survivor.
“I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Patterson said.
Patterson was diagnosed in 2008. He underwent six different types of chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville.
“They saved my life,” he said.
And so did his family and friends -- some even becoming his training buddies. But getting to where he is today was no easy task. For months he wasn't even able to walk.
“Failure is a really good motivator. I just always feared failing,” Patterson said.
As difficult as it was and inspired by his family and friends, he started slowly walking around his neighborhood.
“And then next thing you know, him and I are training to do triathlons and Ironmans,” he said. “Before I was diagnosed, if you would have brought that up, I would have told you you were crazy. There's no way I wanted to do anything like that.”
Although it was the worst news of his life, Patterson says cancer gave him a new perspective.
“You know, I'll smell the flowers now,” he said. “But I was always just go, go, go. And now I will. I'll stop and smell the flowers and I appreciate everything a lot more.”
He remembers a doctor telling him there are two different types of people that get cancer. The ones who are positive and beat it, and the others who let the disease beat them. As a natural born fighter, he attacked his cancer by being positive.
“I never thought the worst was going to happen. I never thought that. I always believed, even though they weren't giving me very good chances,” Patterson said.
By overcoming the odds and becoming his best self, he hopes his story will help save someone else.
“I believe God played a hand in it because God has a reason for him to be here … Encouraging and helping other people that have cancer,” said his mother, Ann Gettelfinger.
“I don't want to do it again. I don't want to go through it again, but I wouldn't change anything. Everything happened for a reason. I'm here at this point for a reason,” he said.
Patterson has been in remission for about seven-and-a-half years. He’s racing in the Derby Festival Marathon next weekend, which is 26.2 miles.
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