Since the passing of my older brother, Michael Patterson, from cancer in 2001, I have been thinking of a way I can do something to help people whose lives were taken too soon from their loved ones (my brother was only 40 years old when he passed). I have finally decided that I will donate a portion of my proceeds from my Bootcamps and Healthy Eats Club to the American Cancer Society to support the research needed to find a cure for cancer and to help others who suffer from this disease.
A little bit about Michael….he was about 2 years older than me and he and I constantly fought all the time as kids until I was about 15 years old….then we became best friends (it helped that I started dating his best friend)! Michael wasn’t into sports like I was with the exception of BMX bike racing. He would travel around from race to race and while at home he would build things like a “hack” at least that is what we called it and he and his friend would ride that thing (looked like a chariot) all the way from the San Fernando Valley to the beach and back!
Michael was always getting hurt….first I remember him getting his finger caught in a baby stroller that he was not supposed to be in and nearly cut his finger off. Then, one day he was riding his bike (with no helmet as we didn’t wear them in those days) and he jumped off a curb and into a car and fractured his skull and developed a blood clot. He was hospitalized and I had to come home early from John Wooden’s basketball camp to help with the tragedy!
As he grew older, he and my dad became very close as my brother followed in my dad’s footsteps and started making and racing boats! They loved making and racing Cracker Box boats! He was so daring and crazy, he ended up crashing his boat and breaking his neck. He was again hospitalized and wore a halo for many weeks.
Michael was not the healthiest person! He made poor choices of food, drank a ton of beer and didn’t exercise. In fact, I lived with him as an adult for awhile when I was going through a separation and after awhile, I could not bear to watch what he was doing to himself so I decided to move out.
From time to time, he would come to me and ask me to give him a workout and help him eat right, but it never lasted long because he was addicted to his bad habits and didn’t have a WHY big enough to change. He wasn’t married and had no kids of his own.
One Thanksgiving, he got sick….at first we thought it was broncitus and then the doctors thought it was congestive heart failure and then, they found a lump in his neck, had a biopsy and found out it was cancer. At that point, the cancer had spread very quickly all over his body. It was so bad that he could not lay down flat long enough to get an MRI to find out where the cancer originated. The cancer was terminal. He refused chemo and radiation and just wanted to go home to my parents house in Nevada.
So, my parents made Michael as comfortable as possible and the took off in their motorhome knowing that the trip would be his last trip home. My brother was so brave….even though he knew he was going to die, he kept a positive attitude and was always happy. Of course, it was hardest on my mom and dad….no parent can bear to see their child die….but my parents had to….they had no choice. Hospice set things up so that they would visit Michael every few days and make sure he was as comfortable as he could be. Michael’s girlfriend was by his side at all times.
After he died, I gave the eulogy at his funeral. It was one of the hardest things I had to do and I really didn’t know if I could pull it off without breaking down but I did. There was a great turnout at the funeral…Michael had a lot of friends…..everyone loved Mikie and he is still missed by many!