'People have been so kind': Mike Sloan
Mike Sloan hasn’t had an easy life, and now he’s dying.
As a child, he was sexually abused by his father. He has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since, leaving him unable to work and living below the poverty line in London, Ont.
In October last year, he lost his voice. His doctor thought it was a cold.
In February, he went to the hospital and was soon diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer — it’s fast-growing and aggressive, with an average survival time of six months.
“It was quite odd,” Sloan recalled, his voice rough and raspy as he spoke with The Telegram on the phone. “I somehow wasn’t scared.”
The 49-year-old had surgery to remove a five-centimeter tumour and some lymph nodes, but he opted against chemoradiation.
“Knowing what I know about this cancer, I may not make it through the treatment. So, I just said no to the treatment and said, ‘I’m just going to try and live the best life I can for whatever time is left.’”
What he would love most is to see Newfoundland before he dies.
“First of all, I’ve never been, but second of all, I’ve met Newfoundlanders all through life. I lived in Alberta for a time, Saskatchewan, Quebec – there were always Newfoundlanders. They were always such interesting people. And people I know who have visited Newfoundland said it was just an incredibly interesting and fun and friendly trip.”
Living on disability, Sloan can’t afford the trip.
No matter. Four days into a GoFundMe campaign, he raised $10,700 – $700 more than his goal. A part of the money will cover funeral expenses and two other trips to see friends in Toronto and Ottawa.
He hopes to make the journey within the first two weeks of August.
“The nurses said to me, ‘If you’re going to do something, get on it.’”
His friend, Scott Collyer, quickly began organizing a 12-day trip.
Collyer used to work for Bell Canada before the Bell Aliant merger, and he would frequently visit the province with NewTel, so he can knowledgeably plan an itinerary.
His plan is to fly Sloan from London to St. John’s, where he’ll spend about three days, then rent a car and drive to Corner Brook for a couple of days before heading to St. Anthony – for Collyer, that’s the pièce de résistance.
“The reason I’m suggesting St. Anthony is because I don’t think I have ever been to a friendlier place on Earth. … Everybody stopped to say ‘hello’ to you, and as soon as they found out we were Canadian, it was, ‘Oh my God, where are you from?’ and then, ‘Oh yea, I know buddy that runs the Newfoundland club in London.’”
Collyer said his hope is that Sloan experiences a “sense of peace” in the province, and is “swallowed up by the friendliness of Newfoundland.”
“This could be any of us, and we all have our personal bucket lists of things that we want to do before we depart this Earth, and it’s kind of neat to be able to help somebody facilitate it.
Dying is one thing that I can accept, because it happens everyday. But I find it really tough to leave this guy behind. I wish I could have done better, or something. It's a really complicated set of emotions. pic.twitter.com/f7SlOGuJ4W— Mike Sloan (@mikelondoncan) July 15, 2019
“I think my challenge to the people of St. John’s and Newfoundland – your readers – will be to show Mike the same kindness that I’ve seen, having visited St. John’s as many times as I have, and actually make my bragging seem to be quite modest in comparison.”
Sloan said he is “incredibly grateful” for the kindness people have shown.
“People I haven’t seen in 30 years are back in my life, and it’s been an incredibly humbling experience.”
He said he has received a lot of bad news in his life, but there’s no point in wasting time trying to change something you can’t change.
“You’ve got to live for today and be grateful. Listen, I’m not a wealthy man, but be grateful for what you have. Even if we don’t have a lot financially, our lives are actually very rich.”