“Never tell me the odds” Crim runner battles pancreatic cancer

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 1:01 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Mid-Michigan runners and walkers are taking off in the first-ever HAP Virtual Crim. And behind every bib, there is a unique story.

Mike Skaggs is a longtime runner who said we must advocate for our own health. And it came after his incredible journey.

He and his wife Missy are nurses at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. Back in 2018, the couple set off on an unexpected course when Mike noticed some health problems.

“I started developing some abdominal issues. It felt like cramping, different types of pain.”

In his 40s and usually healthy, he put off going to the doctor. But his wife knew something was wrong.

“This was just not my husband who has boundless energy.”

When he finally went, he said it took months and months of tests before a doctor diagnosed him with advanced pancreatic cancer.

“He wasn’t optimistic that we were going to make it to surgery. He gave me, you know, about 18 months after my diagnosis.”

Mike Skaggs and his family worked to stay strong and used a battle cry. “Never tell me the odds” is a Star Wars quote. He said his loved ones used it during his months of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation.

“I took about a month off. And then in December, I had surgery to remove the tumor that they had found, most of my pancreas, my spleen, my gallbladder, and quite a bit of vascular reconstruction in my abdomen.”

Not long after, the pandemic hit. Mike Skaggs said he struggled with the recovery and was down to 135 pounds. But he said throughout his cancer fight, the community and his family were very supportive.

He looked back to a day when his Crim training group stopped in a for a surprise visit.

“The next thing I know, our whole group shows up at our house with rakes and shovels and dirt and mulch.”

Missy Skaggs added, “(They) spent an entire day helping us with our spring cleaning.”

She said they were surrounded by love.

“Our Hurley family at work, our family, our friends. I don’t think we could ever repay what everyone did for us.”

Mike Skaggs said he took it all in stride.

“Sometimes it’s short goals to reach that long term finish.”

He said his battle also taught him an important lesson we could all learn from.

“When it comes to their health, if they feel like something is wrong, it’s okay to ask for a second opinion or a third opinion. It’s okay to keep pushing until you get answers.”

It was the determination he would count on from start to finish running the first-ever Virtual Crim race.

Looking ahead, Mike Skaggs said pancreatic cancer never has a true remission state just because of the high recurrence rate. He said he was now in a ‘no evidence of disease’ stage but there was always a chance for it to come back. He said he would see his oncologist every three months.

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