Most cancers/MS survivor Mike Halstead takes epic cross-country biking tour for charity


Tom Struzieri and Mike Halstead behind the Tempe signal. (Photograph by Jane Struzieri)

Simply hours after ending his twenty ninth Survival of the Schwanganks (SOS) Triathlon – arguably one of the grueling of its sort on the planet – beloved native vet Mike Halstead boarded a airplane that will take him to San Diego, the place he and His buddy Tom Struzzi, proprietor of Horseshoe within the Solar (HITS) in Saugerties, will start his transcontinental biking tour in an effort to boost consciousness and cash for muscular dystrophy (MS). Having been a podium finisher at SOS for dozens of years, Halsted—who hasn’t even competed in lower than a dozen Ironman triathlons, together with the elite and prestigious Ironman World Championships—determined to tackle a fair higher endurance problem: biking 100 miles. From San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida, in the future for 27 days with Struzzi.

Biking 100 miles in 100-degree warmth for in the future is the equal of a “Century Journey” on the satan’s facet; However to do it 27 days in a row? With blisters and blisters from SOS that have not healed? Buckle by asphalt by a number of the hottest, sandy, most cactus-loving and jagged tire-popping stretches within the Southwest? Effectively, go away it to Dr. Mike, as his mates name him, to get the aftermath, headwinds and all. The world rises to a right away state of “challenged” when speaking about Halstead, one of many mildest-witted, well mannered and sort folks you will ever meet.

And did I point out that Dr. Mike was additionally recognized with stage IV melanoma, and was recognized with a number of sclerosis (MS) lower than a yr later? So long as he was coaching, biking, operating, swimming, cribbing and operating Lake Cattrin Animal Hospital. Oh, and if you actually need his companies, Stone Ridge-based veterinarians and triathletes will usually present up at your house to assist deal with or diagnose a sick or injured pet.

The one factor I knew about Dr. Mike was his legendary standing as an athlete who had competed in additional SOS triathlons than anybody on this tribe of athletes, these first bumpy, gearless bike/swim / Had donned a Speedo and a full head of hair within the race. /swim/run/swim/run competitions, and are nonetheless equally aggressive with jammers as an alternative of banana hammocks and rather less hair in current SOS epic battles. I did not know that in 2012, Halstead was recognized with MS, a bunch of genetic ailments that trigger progressive weak spot and lack of muscle mass.

“I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have wonderful docs who’ve enabled me to proceed my loopy – some would possibly say ‘silly’ – lively life-style! Alex Sherwood [a friend, SOS tribe member and competitor] It is like saying that after I have been recognized with MS, I accelerated,” Halstead says with fun. “Significantly, I have been very fortunate, as a result of there are such a lot of individuals who have MS who aren’t being as lively as they wish to be.”

Emory Move (Photograph by Mike Halstead)

As he struggled with this analysis, studying to handle it and nonetheless persevering with his exercise- and endurance-loving life-style, Halstead seen he had a serious bump or bruise on his proper shin. “I went to the physician, who despatched me to a surgeon to have it eliminated,” he recalled. However every week later he acquired a name informing him that lab outcomes decided that this mass was solely a symptom of stage IV melanoma – mainly a pores and skin most cancers that likes to unfold quickly within the physique and has a excessive mortality price. it happens. They shot him with dye to see which lymph nodes contained most cancers cells. He discovered a number of close to his groin space and scheduled surgical procedure, after which turned to chemotherapy and radiation. “I went proper after SOS in September of 2016,,” stated Halstead, who usually outlined issues primarily based on SOS (at all times the second weekend of September) by way of the place his life arc fell.

He describes doing SOS that yr along with his mates and SOS uber-athletes Sherwood and Mike Vance. “I had an amazing Might and June of that yr of coaching. However as soon as I used to be recognized with melanoma, I did not really feel very motivated to get out, however I knew I needed to for my sanity. ought to should. “

Because the SOS arrived, he could not be part of it, and his mates made certain he wasn’t alone. “I labored with the bike and my spouse [Shirley Halstead, vice president of Finance at SUNY New Paltz] Shot me a crap-eating grin, after which I see Sherwood and Vance ready for me with tattoos on my chest that say, ‘Dr. Mike’s fan membership. We simply began laughing and laughing for a lot of the race. We stayed collectively, and by the point we climbed to the skytop, we had been crying and laughing. i do not know the way sherwood [the Voice of the SOS] There was sufficient power to carry the mic and announce the remainder of the race!”

The surgical procedure and chemo started a couple of days after the SOS. The prognosis gave the impression to be good, till they ran commonplace MRI and CAT scans of the mind—a routine process for MS, and likewise for melanoma, which likes to arrange store within the mind. Halstead stated MRIs continued to point out lesions in his mind that weren’t there earlier than. “The docs couldn’t inform whether or not they had been MS lesions or cancerous lesions. So, they wished me to return residence and wait six extra weeks and do one other factor. Every time the lesions acquired worse.”

This occurred when Halstead felt he did not have a lot time to dwell and offered his enterprise (the place he’s now an worker) to a vet he revered. “They had been on the brink of radiate my thoughts, and it was not going to finish nicely,” he stated. “I needed to determine, do I wish to dwell like this for the remainder of my life?”

(LR): Jane Struzieri, Mike Halstead and Tom Struzieri. (Photograph by Ruben Martinez)

After some second and third opinions, and primarily based on their very own analysis, Halstead and Wasser’s oncologists grew to become satisfied these had been MS lesions. “As quickly as I ended chemotherapy, they went away. There was one thing about the way in which the chemo affected my MS that made it develop; however as soon as the chemo was over, all of the sores went away.”

Halsted has been most cancers free for 5 and a half years, and does not appear to have a day. “Tom and I began doing these bike rides from our residence on the Hudson River to Lake George, after which we did one trip from his home to Buffalo; and we sort of gave start to the concept that we might do 400 miles extra each time. Will maintain including until we cross the entire nation.”

As they each realized, this is able to require far more planning, and they also chalked up the plan to making an attempt to bike throughout the nation in (about) a month, averaging about 100 miles per day. To make that epic one thing, they each believed that elevating cash for the Nationwide A number of Sclerosis Society can be an enormous boon. “It is close to and expensive to my coronary heart, as a result of it is one thing you reside with without end,” Halstead stated. “There isn’t any remedy, however I wish to do no matter I can to assist discover methods so that individuals can obtain efficient therapy in order that they’ll have a greater high quality of life with MS – and finally After all, I might like to see a deal with.”

As they trip by California, New Mexico and Texas, endlessly change flat tires, cowl themselves in zinc oxide to guard them from the solar, meet kindred People at dinner and greet household and mates. About his journey, Halsted is shocked by his buddy Struzieri, who retains pushing like a champ in opposition to heavy headwinds, and by all these individuals who @ Instagram. vet2go and others are following his journey by social media posts.

Now in additional than 1,400 miles of journey, hitting these open roads for eight hours a day, it is getting more durable; However Halstead is not going to let calamity get in his means. Requested how the thirteenth was going, he stated, “We’re having a good time and have already raised $55,000!”

He is perhaps one of many kindest, most humble super-athletes I’ve ever encountered, and he is doing all of it with a smile, MS, and a most cancers survivor. To donate, go right here,


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