Mike Neeson was the picture of health when, at age 45, the Stillwater dad got the shocking diagnosis — stage IV colon cancer. “Don’t go on the internet,” his surgeon told him. “Everyone is different in how they respond.”
Somehow Mike and his wife, Patty, resisted the urge. If they had searched online, the information would have been grim. At that time, the 5-year survival rate was in the single digits. “I’m glad we didn’t know it,” Patty said.
Instead, the couple focused on devising a game plan. Mike began treatment quickly, and knew he was in good hands with an acclaimed medical team at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center. Chemo and radiation began two weeks following the diagnosis, and Mike and Patty broke the news to their boys, who were 11 and 8 at the time. Mike halted his rewarding work at Andersen Windows and became a full-time cancer patient. In total, he would rack up
72 weeks of chemo, 40 radiation treatments and multiple surgeries, including a colostomy and urostomy. Mike remained unfailingly positive. “He never once said, ‘Why me,’” said Patty. “Instead, he learned to deal with his new reality. He took each new day as a gift.”
A remarkable outcome
Today, 15 years later, tests reveal that Mike is cancer free, and his odds of getting cancer again are the same as anyone else’s. He is tanned, toned, and golfing three times a week — you would never know what he’s been through.
Mike speaks to cancer patients about his cancer journey, and the Neesons feel united with anyone battling cancer. And, they have teamed up with another couple to raise more than a million dollars for colon cancer research at the University of Minnesota. Mike never needed hospice, but he and Patty are quick to tout the care other family members have received. “When we hear a loved one is going into hospice, I say, ‘Oh, it’s so comforting to have that peace of mind,’” Patty says. She understands how hospice benefits the whole family, not just the patient.
The Neesons added Our Lady of Peace (OLP) to their will to ensure they can support it down the road. “We’re big proponents of estate planning,” Mike said. “Estate planning gives you peace of mind — and it’s less your kids have to deal with.” Patty agrees. “It was a no-brainer,” she said. “And if more people knew about the Legacy Society, they would do it. Donating to Our Lady of Peace is a worthy cause, and they need the funds. If we don’t support OLP, there will be people who literally have no options.”
Thank you, Mike and Patty Neeson for joining the Our Lady of Peace Legacy Society.