Mike’s adventure: a remarkable journey of cancer treatment and recovery

Michael Baine has raised over $45,000 for cancer care at the Ottawa Hospital since the end of April 2021. Having completed 38 marathons since 1978 at Ottawa Race Weekend, this year will be different—not only because of the pandemic. A veteran marathoner and trekker, there has not been any extreme alpine hiking or running for Baine this year. 

In May of 2020, after the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend went virtual, Baine was diagnosed with stage-4 metastatic prostate cancer. Due to both a global and personal health crisis, plans to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in August of 2020 were put on hold while doctors aggressively treated the cancer. 

“My experience has mirrored the pandemic so much, with lots of ups and downs and some very challenging times. I had a titanium rod placed inside my femur, then had radiation and chemo which brings its own sick feeling.” There have also been some positives, he shared, “Our family is closer now more than ever. We were able to bubble with our youngest daughter, getting a chance to bond everyday with our granddaughter, Celeste, who was born a few days after my diagnosis, our 12th grandchild.”

For the last 11 months Baine blogged “Mike’s adventure” to a list of friends and family who followed his journey of treatment and recovery. At 72, Baine is very active and healthy, having completed high altitude trekking to the Andes and Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland, and finally in 2019 a 25km/day, 450km solo hike through the Alps from Munich, Germany, to Venice, Italy. A true adventurer!

Very recently, the doctors delivered troubling news: the cancer renewed its spread and has moved into Baine’s pelvic bones. 

“Tuesday after I got that news, I sent out an email to my list asking for them to sponsor me to walk a half marathon in support of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.” He chose May 16 as his race date, because that marks one year since his cancer adventure began. After walking the half-marathon, a new treatment will start on the growth.

Baine checked with his oncologist about his plan to walk a half marathon and was cleared with a caution to “listen to his body”. 

At 8:00 am on May 16, rain or shine, Baine will start from Westboro, head east along Richmond Road to Wellington, Rideau, and Sussex. Then he will loop around the Governor General’s residence and double back. The walking poles that brought him through Everest base camp, Peru and the Alps will help Baine ease the pressure on his leg with the titanium rod, which causes him “some discomfort”. 

Some friends and family are going to walk in solidarity on the same day in other parts of the city. Baine’s daughter and her family, including 10-month-old Celeste, will accompany him for part or all the way. Baine said, “Accommodations will be made as needed. The stroller can act as a walker to relieve pressure if needed. I am taking my time, not looking to set records this year. I can stop and chat for a minute or have some water and take time to wave. Walking a half marathon, I estimate, takes 6 hours. My best time was departing Carleton in 1979 and I did a marathon in 3:07. I know I won’t ever beat that! I will see how I feel on the day.”

When asked, Baine credits the high level of donations to the ongoing connection he has maintained with colleagues, friends, fellow adventurers, and even grade school chums. 

“I am very fortunate to have kept connections with incredible people from every walk of life, all over the world, and from different times in my life. A group who donated are friends from grade one in Hamilton. Another donor is from Australia and we met in Nepal!”

You never know what is possible until you ask.

“People feel good helping, they feel less helpless about their ability to support,” shared Baine. 

Baine has fundraised in Ottawa for decades, especially for Ottawa Hospital and CHEO annual fundraisers, but did not expect this result. When he sent out his email appeal he was aiming for $3,000-5,000 dollars and is “so excited to have raised so much so quickly. Very close people have had my back through these eleven months. Each of these people know how wonderful Ottawa Hospital has been. It feels fantastic to get this much support!”

Children and grandchildren drive-by and do socially distanced visits, and his grandchildren made art for his bedroom walls with photos of his incredible adventures. “Bubbling with a newborn brings so much joy, it has been wonderful to support our youngest with her first child. Telling my 4 daughters about my cancer diagnosis was so hard, they are fabulous and strong women. My wife is my companion and partner through it ALL, we are very very lucky to have each other. We are 22 in total now, most of them in Ottawa.”

Are you moved to support Michaal Baine in his half-marathon? Every dollar raised goes directly to the Cancer Centre at the Ottawa Hospital. Visit his fundraising page to donate and send him a message of support

There are many more Scotiabank Charity Challenge stories to be inspired by!

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