Rare and Aggressive
Urban Dictionary defines the phrase “cowboy up” like this: “When things are getting tough, you have to get back up, dust yourself off and keep trying.” It doesn’t get much tougher than learning that you have cancer.
In Mike Brashear’s case that revelation was particularly harsh. In 2014, he was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, a rare and aggressive form of cancer which affects the blood and bone marrow. It’s a diagnosis which would cause many, understandably, to simply give up.
Mike approached it differently. As a rider and trainer of horses in Colorado, he’s a cowboy to the core, from his occupation to his attitude. His answer to the news that he had leukemia? “It’s kind of a scary deal, but it is what it is.” He confronted his cancer with a positive attitude, seeing it as something he had to get through to come out the other side.
Contrary to the popular image of the cowboy, however, Mike wasn’t alone. He had help from family, friends and a whole network of people who supported his journey toward health.
A Call to Help
The research done by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and the treatment options that resulted from that research eventually led to Mike’s cancer going into remission. Since then, Mike has worked to promote the cause of LLS and to raise money to support their continuing research and development efforts.
Linda Stephens, an independent representative of Halo Branded Solutions in Denver, heard of Mike’s campaign through a client and she was immediately inspired to help. Linda’s husband is also a leukemia survivor and she remembered how important the support they received was.
“It was in my heart to pay it forward by helping someone else,” Linda recalls. “There were a lot of pieces that came together to make this happen.”
With Halo picking up some of the costs and many events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda was able to provide 2,000 t-shirts for the campaign. She had the chance to speak with Mike over the phone and later to meet with him directly when she personally drove to deliver his shirts.
Just as Linda wanted to pay their experience forward to help Mike’s campaign, Mike wanted to give back to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the Cowboy Up Against Cancer campaign, which is still running today.
The t-shirts Linda provided were used to build the campaign up financially as well as to promote it, and 3:10 Ranch Life was instrumental in getting those shirts sold. By working with UCHealth and His Cavvy Foundation, among other organizations, Mike has been able to leverage his story and the support he received into a fundraising powerhouse for research into an eventual cure for blood cancers.
“You don’t have to be a cowboy to cowboy up,” Mike states in one of his many videos. “It means you get down in there, get tough and say ‘you ain’t gonna kick my butt.’” As philosophies toward beating cancer go, this is an excellent way to start.
Hope on the Horizon
Mike recently celebrated five years of remission from the cancer that many thought would end his life. This year, he was nominated to participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign, raising over $89,000 and never losing sight of their important mission. His story has a happy ending thanks to the support he received and the attitude he brought to the fight.
Confronting a serious health condition like cancer is enough to make anyone lose hope. In the words and in the example of Mike Brashear, the alternative is to “Cowboy up and get ‘er done.”