Mike Worley was lifting a computer out of his car when his back popped. He initially assumed it was a pulled muscle, but after months of constant pain, Mike had a CAT scan performed. On April 6, 2011, much to his surprise, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
The Worley family – wife Pam, daughter Abbie, and son Michael – didn’t accept this diagnosis as debilitating, but rather focused on Mike’s first step to recovery – a kyphoplasty to treat his vertebral compression fracture. After healing from surgery, Mike began chemotherapy treatments. Despite the expected side effects, Mike was blessed with modest symptoms. After chemotherapy, Mike’s cancer cell count dropped from 60 percent to seven.
Throughout recovery, Mike was overwhelmed with support from friends at home and strangers abroad who read his story on CaringBridge about his struggles, triumphs, and his faith in God that saw him through it. “I have always been a self-reliant person,” explains Mike. “At first, I didn’t want anyone to feel burdened by my condition. I realized later that refusing their help would be robbing them of their blessing. Their assistance and support was as much a blessing for me as it was for them.”
In October 2011, Mike underwent a stem cell transplant. This procedure, although successful, destroyed his immune system. After the transplant, the Worley family spent 30 days in isolation to begin rebuilding his immunity. Eight days into the isolation, Mike had a fever and was admitted into the hospital. After stabilizing and completing his quarantine, Mike climbed in his tree stand in the woods and thanked God for his recovery. “We never had a day of doubt that everything was going to be okay,” stated Pam. “Our house was a house of joy. It was our positive attitude that got us through it.”
Mike’s garden reflects his outlook throughout his cancer journey – bright, vibrant, and full of life. A chartreuse sweet potato vine intertwines in a blanket of red salvia, and is peppered with basil, rosemary, and sage to reflect Mike and Pam’s love for cooking and entertaining.
Mike is currently cancer free and continues to impress his positive attitude on other cancer patients. “Joy is independent of your circumstances,” he says. “What we go through doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can actually use it for good. Every negative thing in life is an opportunity.”