Mike was diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant melanoma in May 2010. Since that first diagnosis four more have followed. He has been told multiple times that he was in remission. He has been told he was cured..... In 2015 he was told the cancer was back for the 5th time. This time it was a tumor next to his stomach. Over the years the cancer has found its way to Mike’s lymph nodes, gall bladder, duodenum, groin, brain, shoulder, etc., etc., etc...
And the dude never complains!!
After countless trips to Houston for medical care over those five years, his most recent visit to MD Anderson confirmed that he would need to be there every three weeks for the next two years. And he still never complains!! The great news is that the treatment for Mike’s melanoma is improving every day. The hope of the medical community is to make the melanoma a chronic disease as opposed to the killer it once was. Mike is living, breathing proof of this success. And even with all of this great news, the hidden costs of cancer continued to rise.
Inspired by Mike's journey through cancer treatment, teamOry was created.
The previous year I had begun to dabble with triathlons. In January of 2014, I showed up at the Crawfish Aquatics pool one morning at 5 a.m., borrowed a bike from my buddy’s wife....and the journey began. I did my first two sprint triathlons two and three months later. Deciding I needed to go bigger I called up a good friend of Mike’s and mine, Phillip Lahaye, who works for Ironman. After a pep talk from Phillip, I signed up for a 1/2 Ironman - 70.3 mile race in Augusta, GA. After completing the race on September 29, 2014 the first thing Jeanne said to me was.... You’re going to go bigger aren't you??
Fast forward six months, after hunting and following LSU football (gained 20 pounds) and I remembered I was supposed to "go bigger not get bigger." I started training again in April 2015. Not sure what I was training for or when, but knowing a full Ironman race was the ultimate goal. So again I called up Phillip. He laughed and said to call him in June when I was serious.... And to lose some weight!!
I kept training and by the end of June my body started to breakdown. Right knee IT band tendinitis, right Achilles tendinitis, severe neck pain when biking to go along with all the general aches that come along with training. My motivation was waning, my body hurt and damn I was tired.
About the same time that I was ready to stop the madness and drop out of training was the same time Mike was re-diagnosed in June of 2015. I had always wondered what I could do to help a lifelong friend battle the beast of cancer. And I have always felt a little lost and helpless. I spend a lot of time praying but always felt I could do more. And then I saw a possible opportunity..... I'd help raise money for Mike and all the hidden cost of cancer, while getting the motivation to complete an Ironman- Help Me Help You. So with a lot of convincing (Mike is a proud and stubborn man) TeamOry was created!!
After a lot of prayer, physical therapy (dry needling sucks) and new found motivation.... All of my aches and pains had resolved. I was back on track with my training program to compete in the Ironman Maryland Race on October 3, 2015. Then entered Hurricane Joaquin.... projected to hit, not the ever alert Gulf coast area but, the east coast exactly where we were heading for the race. Hearing of the official race cancelation brought obvious disapointment but understanding and prayers for those who are in the path of this storm.
So.... it was back to training (and trying to undo the last week of race prep carb loading). But by the grace of God and the help of a great friend, hopefully it wouldn't be that much longer. I was able to sign up for the next Ironman Race on October 11, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. Again, the race includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of biking and a 26.2 mile run. The difference... the course difficulty, basically the hills of Kentucky, so the new goal is to finish somewhere between 15 to 17 hours.
Give a little each mile....
On October 11th, I ran my race. With thoughts of Mike motivating me onward and a team of supporters tracking my progress I completed the race in a little over 10 hours. We were all humbled by the number of donations we received. A true testament to Mike's character and endless friendships.
And just like that TeamOry was created. We called the TeamOry head fake......While we all think of TeamOry as a bunch of friends and family raising money for Mike. He sees it differently. He wants to build his own TeamOry. Be assured that 100% of the money collected will go directly to Michael Ory. But here's the catch. Mike refuses to accept a handout from anyone. His vision includes helping other cancer patients who "aren't as fortunate as him." Who am I to tell Mike how to spend the money we raise for him. I said he was stubborn and proud.... Maybe unselfish is a better description.
So the money will be used to help finance The Hidden Costs of Cancer for TeamOry.....it just includes Mike’s TeamOry!!
The idea for Lafourche Movement came from a combination of inspirations and motivations.
1. Over the past 10 years, Jeanne has helped one of her closest friends, Jeremy Lacombe, with his annual fundraiser. Nell's Angels was started 14 years ago in honor of Jeremy's mother and her terminal battle with brain cancer. The proceeds from the foundation go directly to cancer patients in Pointe Coupee parish helping to finance the hidden costs of cancer. In most cases, the organization has provided patients with money for travel costs, treatment equipment for the home and tuition scholarships for students whose families have been effected by this disease.
2. When I presented the fund raising idea to Mike, the only way he would agree to let us help him, is if he could help other cancer patients in Lafourche Parish.
3. Finally, when Jeanne and I presented the idea of raising money for Mike to his friends... Ideas really started to snowball. There were talks about renting out Fred's, a Prom Gala (Mike will love this one), Beer Fest, Golf Tournaments, Crawfish boils, etc....
So our future goal is to continue along a similar path of Nell's Angels but for Lafourche Parish cancer patients. This is how Mike wants it.
Mike expressed the idea - "I want to show other people with cancer the ropes around MD Anderson. Ideally, I want to help them with transportation. Maybe even get my pilot’s license to fly myself and other cancer patients to Houston."
I can't promise what is to come in the future. What I can promise is as long as Mike is interested in raising money for Lafourche Cancer patients... Jeanne and I are all IN!! We all look forward to the potential relief this project can provide for those closest to us.
Mike lost his battle to cancer in May of 2016. We continue Mike's fight for him and for all of the people he wanted to help by keeping his memory alive through teamOry.