My name is Mike Hoppel, I am 74 years old, and I am living and beating cancer as we speak. The diagnosis was very hard on me, and probably more hard on my family by far, on my wife and my daughter and my grandkids. They gave me all these options and told me this is what we can do and this is what you have, and this is where you are, and if you do nothing, you maybe have four or five years, and if you do something, you maybe have 10 years, and if you beat it, you're good. And so, by the time they got done and about four or five different specialists talked to me, I'm not a doctor, I don't know, I couldn't even understand the words. Everything was flying through my head. And so, we went home and we talked about it, talked with Katie, and we decided to be very aggressive about what we were doing.
I didn't want to wait and see, because that was an option. I didn't want to be down the road six or eight or 10 months, and then we are going to do the removal of it. I said, "No, this is what I want to do." I let them know that I have a plan, because they warned me about, please don't become a couch potato and just sit around and think about it, because the depression and all the fears in your head will multiply. So I did give them my game plan. I said, "I intend to run every day during the treatment, at least a 5K." But really, it was more about four and a half miles to about eight miles a day, every day, and that's well over a 100 right now. The SA numbers were... I don't remember what the number were.
They were very, very elevated. And the size of the prostate was four times it normally was. It was just very, very large. And we knew that when we went into surgery and had the hip surgery. And whenever I went home without pain, then that triggered the whole thing, and got it at front of the line there. And so, we quickly decided to go ahead and move forward within two weeks. They wanted to wait for several months, I said, "No. If we're going to do it, we're going to do it right now. We're going to get this over with." And they moved very fast on it. There were many MRIs where they did some tests, and well, they came back with the fact that there were three major areas that they were concerned about. Two of them were definitely critical, and one they didn't know.
But with three of them, I didn't feel we had a choice to do anything, but make a decision to take it out. But they were very thorough. They sent me to each one of these, this is your [inaudible 00:03:33], this we can treat it with this type of treatment. So this happened at a really great time of the year, called Thanksgiving Day, day before Thanksgiving. A great time. They did take it out. The doctor said all of the margins were very, very good. He felt very confident that he got all of it out, and they sent all the samples off. And when they come back, they were just sure they had it, and basically said, "Okay, you're cancer free." And I was excited. And I guess it was maybe about three weeks or four weeks later, they had another PSA test, and it showed that it was detectable, and he was so upset that it came back that way.
He said, "That's not supposed to be there. Something has escaped during the removal of this." And then he tested again about a week later, it's going up. He said, "No, going up is bad. W got to do something about this. We could wait for three or four months to see if it just hadn't settled down." They tested three or four times fairly quick, but it obviously was going to go up. And I just said, "No, let's go ahead and start." And we got started, I guess, within about a week. I mean, within a month of what was going on, we were already setting the dates to map out the procedure they were going to use for the radiation. And that takes a couple weeks. They have to lay out a plan exactly where it is, and they put it together very quickly, and we got started on it. We had to have 40 radiation treatments. This was five days a week. I will have my last, hopefully the last injection will be the 22nd of this month. And naturally, you're always going to be checked out.
So I did join a Vanderbilt Cancer Research study. They basically got my body to do whatever they want to with it. They're going to track me for the rest of my life, and they're going to do a genealogy on me. And anything that happens to me, they're going to have a record of this, because I have a whatever-
... a marker that they see in patients, and they had a very good sample of mine available to them. And so, they don't understand what that marker means, and so I have it, and so they were very excited to get me, because this study had already closed at the time I had my surgery. And while I was in there, they called them and told them that I was available if they need me. So within 15 minutes they had a team down there with their paperwork and got everything signed, because they didn't have enough good samples, and I had the whole sample from me.
So that's exciting to be a part of research on this, whatever part of my body they wanted here. My plan was to be very active.
I continue to work full time, and at work they gave me options to not have to work at all. I said, "No, I can't do that. I cannot sit down, I must be working." And so I said, "I'm going to do a 100 runs at least, and then I'm going to break at least 400 miles." And on last Saturday, September 10th, I ran Sherry's Run. It's a fundraising for cancer in Lebanon, Tennessee. And I run four other ones, this was the fifth one. And so, I wanted to run that for Sherry's Run, and then I told my wife that at the end of the first run, I wanted to turn around, go back to the start line, and run it again. So I ran it twice.
I wanted to run the second time for those that couldn't run. And I lost a friend about three weeks ago in a car wreck. He died. He was one of our managers at Lowe's. I wanted to run it for him also. So obviously, when I took off the second time, everyone else just had already left the starting line 30 minutes before. So I had to catch up with everyone at the end of the race, so that they didn't shut down the finish line. I wanted to cross the finish line the second time. And so, as I'm running this race, they're taking down the barriers, but I knew where the route went, because I've been there lots of times. So I just follow my route, and these policemen are looking at me like, "Who's this crazy guy?" And I kept pointing at my thing, I said, "Hey, I've got a number. I'm running this race." They didn't know it was the second time.
One guy picked it up on the curb card, he said, "You've been by here before." I said, "Number two." And so, I finally caught up, I did catch up with the policeman, I was behind the police car. And finally I went up back to the window and I said, "Sir", I said, "I am supposed to be in front of you, you're supposed to be at the back of me, because I'm running this race." And he said, "Well, okay, get in front of me." I said, "Well, please don't run over me." So I managed to get around him. Of course, there's some walkers doing it, so I thought I could catch him and I barely did. But I caught up with him, I finished the line, and then at the end of the race there was a sign that my coworker used all the time.
And he did like this, he said, "Me too." And then I added this to it, "I'm okay." So I went, "Okay." And that was telling Josh upstairs that, "Hey man, I'm doing this for you. I'm doing it for anyone else that couldn't run." It was 6.2 miles, but I did it. And I was recognized on the stage for that as just an extra announcement, and it was real cool they announced it, "This is Mike Hoppel, and he's run this race with cancer and beating cancer." And he said, "By the way, he turned around and ran it two times." And that got the attention and everybody there really made me feel good and encouraged me to keep running, because I have an event coming up this Saturday for the Senior Olympic National Qualifications. And I have to go do that in order to be able to be sent through to Nationals.
And I don't know that I'll ever be a competitive person, but doesn't mean I can't run, because I'm going to run. And the Senior Olympic Committee, as long as I participate, will push me through this, because I've placed at Nationals before, and they will take that under consideration to allow me to run Nationals if I choose to do it. But that's another way, I have to have a goal. If I don't have a reason to run, I'm not going to run. And so, I'm making this opportunity available to me to say, "If you want to go Mike, you can. And if it's not possible for you, then I'll back off of it some." And my doctor really didn't understand, and he warned me, he said, "You are going to crash, and you're going to do it about midway through your treatment." And I said, "Okay, we'll see about that."
But I ran every day. I did not crash. And every time I went in for my treatment, they asked me the same question. They said, "How do you feel today?" I said, "I feel good." "And what is your pain level?" And I said, "I am a pain, but I don't have any pain." And then she said, "Well, what about depression and fatigue?" I said, "Well, every time you ask me this question, I get fatigue, because you keep asking me the questions." I said, "I don't have any pain. I'll let you know when I have pain. I feel great." And he said, "Really?" I said, "No, really, I don't have any pain." I don't. I feel really good. I know when I get ready to run, I do my warmups. It takes about 10 minutes, and my body, I don't go out there with the intention to run, I go out there to get permission from my body to run.
And I do. I do it, I stand up, I move, I stretch real good, because I know my muscles have been compromised by the injection and by the radiation, and my bone density is weakened. So I could break my bone so easy, I could pull a muscle real easy, so I've got to be careful how I run. I don't want to do that, but I do not feel bad. Sometimes I feel way too good, but by the end of the day, I'm getting more out, because I start at work at seven. They allow me to work from seven to four every day. I don't have to work the weekends. And it takes a lot of recovery time.
At night I have hot flashes that go on, and this, I can set my clock by it and tell you what time it is by when I had my last hot flash.
And that's from the shot, but every hour and a half I light up like a Christmas tree. I'm just sweating from head to toe, everything, and maybe it last five to 10 minutes, but I can't sleep. It takes 10 hours to get three hours of sleep. I'm start to getting used to that, and I don't want another drug involved in this, so I'm going to put up with it. And as long as they keep the flexible hours at work on me, I get home at four o'clock. It takes me two hours to get ready, at seven o'clock I'm in bed, and by eight o'clock the TV's going off. And then I'm just sitting there, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the next hot flash so I can try to go to sleep and clean it. And then, I'm up when it goes off. And then at 12, exactly 11:30 I get up, I go out behind my truck in my neighborhood, and it's dark.
It's 1130 at night and I warm up, I walk up about half a mile up to this top of this hill where I start, and I'm doing my exercises and marching, looking like some silly toy soldier marching up and down, breathing real weird and making weird sounds. And so, I get up the top and then I just ask myself and said, "Are you ready to run?" And I am. I'm not hurting. I'm loosened up, and I take off. I have no goals in mind. I'm not going to say I'm going to run a mile. I don't put a time on it. My goal was to run between about four and a half and six miles every day, and I came really close to that. And during the process of running this route that I got on my phone. I got to show you some art later. I want to show you a picture of that, because I'm quite a artist, but it's a humorous thing, so I have to be careful with that one. I get to run around a lake, it's well lit.
Lots of things happened up there. It motivated me beyond... I just can't tell how motivating, but I would be running around the lake. An example one time, I was really exhausted, because I had a very hard weekend with the grandkids were over. I was exhausted, but I had to run, and I really didn't want to run. And so, I'm running around here, and this was about two o'clock in the morning, and this car drives by me. And I watched the cars, because I'm running down the middle of the road. And so, I'm afraid someone's going to run over me. So this car rides by me, and about 10 minutes later he drives back around me. Well, that scare me, because why would a person go around twice? And he rolled his window down, and I didn't know him.
And he pulled over and he said, "I just wanted to tell you that I see you running out here this time of the morning." Because he works at night. And he said, "I went home, I got dressed, I'm on my way to the gym, I'm going to go workout." He said, "You motivated me to get up and go out and run." And well that motivated me to finish my run. So it helped him, but it helped me more to finish my run. But I run them very frequently early in the morning, but somehow, either morning or evening I would get all of my runs in. If I get two hours of sleep, it's the same as eight of other people. And four hours is normally what I get. Five is fantastic. It doesn't happen very often. So I'm okay not getting a lot of consist sleep, but it takes me almost 10 hours to get enough sleep to be charged long enough to work at work, and I'm on my feet all day long.
I never stop moving there. It's about 10 to 12 miles I walk at work. And by the way, I did a step timber for Lowe's about five years ago, how many steps our store could do, and I was in the heart of that. And I told them that I would do a million plus steps, which I didn't realize what that meant. I just threw something out there, because they did a recording, something like this, and I didn't know what to tell them. He said, "What is your challenge to all the stores in our region?" And I said, "I challenge you to beat me, and I'm going to go at least a million steps." Well, I didn't know if I could do that, but I did more than a million steps. And so, it was cool. And our store, about 70% of everyone in the store participated in this.
So it got everyone up off the couch and made them move. This is my GPS run of me cutting me and my neighbor's grass, 3.5 miles, and the different colors are the different pace. Because I asked my neighbor if I could cut his grass, because it is part of my therapy. Because you can see really details, it gives you all the mileage, it tells you the pace and the calories and everything about it. So in person, this is something I think that I want to put on my wall, because it's a piece of art to me.
I didn't realize how many people had cancer out there. I mean, I was so surprised. And most of the time people with cancer don't say a word to anybody. And people at work said, "Why do you tell people about your cancer?" Well, one, I had to drink so much water every day before my cancer treatments, that I just told my customers, I say, "Guys, here's my phone, when it goes off, I am going to stop in the middle of a sentence. I'm going to drink this water and I'm not being rude, but I just want to tell you why I'm doing it."
And so, it got to where the people who don't knew me so well, that I could be walking across the floor, my phone go off and I hear someone over in the corner said, "Hey Mike, drink your water." And I said, "Okay." But there were so many people that have cancer, almost every person I talked to. I mean, 98% of the people, they had cancer in their family, they had a friend, most of us in their family. And I told them what was going on, and they were motivated by it. They put me on their prayer list.
One lady come back one day and I seen her coming in and I'd sold something to her, and she walked up, she had tears in her eyes, and I said, "Are you okay?" And she said, "Oh yes, I'm okay. I just come in to ask how you were doing, and let you know that I'm on my way to the gym. I got up off the couch this morning after our conversation, and I wanted to let you know that I'm going to do something about what's going on in my life, and I'm not going to sit around and without doing something."
And she checks back with me regular. I mean, it's unbelievable how many people check almost on a weekly basis, and tell me they're still praying for me and see how we were doing, and all these stories that you're putting out here, and what my daughters has done for me, it's unbelievable the comments that's coming back on it. It's so important to involve your friends and your family in what's going on in your life. You don't need to be silent about it. You can talk about it every day if you're comfortable with it, but the family members are going through more pain and anguish and anxieties than the person with it.
And I watch them, and my wife gets very, very concerned about what's going on, so much that she becomes where she can hardly move. And I just tell her, "We have a plan. We're going to follow our plan." Mine was to run and try to run with cancer, outrun cancer. And I will do all the physical things that maybe doesn't make any sense to the doctors. And they didn't understand, "Why do you have the strength?" I have the strength. I don't know why I have the strength. Even when the prostate drops to seven, so the testosterone went down to seven, and that's like zero. The doctor said, "You shouldn't be doing anything, just sitting around doing nothing." I said, "I feel perfectly fine. I am so thankful I do." And just involve all your friends and family. Don't leave the amount, because they're going to help make this all happen, along with the doctors and all the technology they have. Just get all your friends and family to get early detection, because that's the only way you're going to have a chance to survive.
It's maybe not a very fun procedure, but if you don't do it, you can die real... You're going to reach a certain stage, you can't do anything but plan for the worst, and it's not necessary. Most of these things, you can beat it. You're more likely, so they tell me, to die with prostate cancer than of prostate cancer. But that fear that goes on in the back of your head makes you just don't feel good. It's always there pestering you, and so get diagnosed early, do something about it. Make your plan, involve your whole family and do your best. Athletes, I talked to someone today and they were mentioning about athletes. The athlete might take this harder. I mean, when they say, "Hey man, I'm active, I don't get to be active anymore." They need more help than you think, because they look strong, they are strong, but they will crash harder and faster than anybody else, because the depression, and they start thinking about it, will blow anybody's mind.