Hunting Fishing

Dream of fishing kept his buddy focused during recovery from pancreatic cancer

Over a month ago I wrote about the difficult journey of Mike from the Bay Area, a 57-year-old businessman with a wife and a daughter who had been a once-a-week fisherman but was recovering from a critical pancreatic tumor operation. Here’s the rest of his story.

My prior column ended with Mike successfully coming out of his massive surgery ready to rehab and recover. It turned out to be a longer journey than he had expected, taking all he had to stay steady, patient and hopeful. His love for fishing turned out to be a key factor in his path back.

A week past the surgery and Mike was doing as good as possible at the hospital when an infection caused a setback. Mike met it head-on. “I felt that I should try to get just a little better every day, eating more food and walking a few more steps. If I could just keep progressing I could see myself getting to where I could fish again,” he told me.

I suggested that we put a date out there somewhere where he thought we might be able to go fishing. I insisted I would take him on that first trip and we would celebrate him getting back to normal. He started telling me in our daily calls that he was feeling a lot better and maybe he would be ready sooner than he had thought.

Our dreams and visions drive us and help us overcome adversity. Without them in a static, sterile environment like the hospital we can quickly lose hope. I could feel Mike holding on to the dream of us going fishing.

Last Friday, a dream was realized when I picked Mike up at the dock at San Luis Reservoir for his first fishing trip since early May. He said that he had tended to take fishing days for granted, but he would always be grateful for them now. The fishing was tough, but Mike told me he didn’t care.

“When I’m out fishing, I consider myself as being the ‘best me I can be,’ Mike said. “I’m fully engaged, excited, focused and nothing else matters for those moments on the water. I missed that part of fishing very much – and when I was concerned about surviving my operation I first thought about not being here for my family and next not being able to fish anymore. It’s who I am.”

We are blessed if we have a passion like that; it’s not common. It was an awesome day. Yes, Mike is back! He’s moving on through the next phase of getting back to full normal, but getting better!

Facing death and pain causes us to identify what really makes us tick – and what causes us to live our lives fully. Yes, life is a precious gift we have to unwrap at times to rediscover our “best self.”

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert:, Rogergeorgeguideservice on Facebook and @StriperWars