“I think cancer will be thing that kills me,” Michael Milton told me in a radio interview earlier in the week.
I guess we’ve all gotta die somehow.
Don’t panic, Michael’s not unwell again, although he conceded to me that his body will never function the way that he’d like it to after beating the disease twice.
He just figures that the last 35 years is testament to the fact that he’s somewhat susceptible to cancer…and he’s right. He tells me that when cancer knocks on his door again he’ll be as ready as he can be take it on, but that he may not always win. He doesn’t live in fear, but he’s a realist, he knows that none of us are immortal.
Young Michael was just 9 years of age when he lost his leg to bone cancer. Most of us would recoil and accept a quiet life after that. Michael didn’t.
He strived to be normal….to do the stuff that the other kids were doing just as well as they were doing them, if not better. Michael Milton is a competitive shit. He’s achieved things that were physically impossible before he did them.
Here’s a bloke who competed in five Paralympic Games. Michael Milton was never a man to just make up the numbers. He’s won six Paralympic gold medals and six gold at world championships. He’s a freak. The last time he represented Australia at the winter paralympics he was in a class of his own. He won all four alpine medals in his class.
He’s also holds the record as Australia’s fastest ever skier. I cannot even imagine the concept of coming down a mountain at 213 kilometres per hour.
After a glittering Winter Paralympics career, Mick faced another cancer battle. He battled through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in 2007 while fending off oesophageal cancer.
12 months after all that he was at the Beijing Paralympics as a cyclist.
There were no medals in 2008, but it’s miracle that he was even there.
When I spoke to Michael on Tuesday he told me that he had days when he was frustrated with the way his body coped with life following his two cancer battles. In the next sentence he was telling me that he went for a lazy bike ride from Queanbeyan to Moruya the other day.
That’s not something that many of us would ever contemplate.
“I still like to think of myself as a bit of a weekend warrior athlete and I still do lots of physical stuff. For me it’s about sharing my passion for the outdoors and being able to share that with other people.”
Michael would like to see more athletes with disabilities being recognized for their achievements, and who can argue with him.
“The most challenging part about living with a disability has been the low expectations of most people I come across.
“Sadly, our culture often expects very little of someone with a disability. We make all sorts of assumptions which are obstacles in themselves. Yes, I walk with crutches but I am quite capable of putting my own groceries through the checkout or walking Kokoda.
“Success for me has often involved rising above the expectations of others or even flying in the face of those who genuinely think I can’t achieve a goal I’ve set myself. That lack of faith can be a great motivator but for some it could easily be a barrier,” said Milton.
Congratulations Michael Milton. You deserve all of the accolades.