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Thousands raised for Newfoundland trip will now go to charity
Add it to his lifetime of challenges: Mike Sloan can’t fulfil his dying wish.
The London, Ont., man hoped to visit Newfoundland before he dies, but complications stemming from his cancer means he can’t fly.
The 49-year-old was diagnosed in February with fast-growing and aggressive anaplastic thyroid cancer. Patients' average survival time is six months.
In the ensuing months, Sloan began making end-of-life plans. Living on disability, he couldn’t afford his dream trip to Newfoundland, but a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $12,000 for the trip in just a few days in July.
And then, three days before he was scheduled to visit, he was told he can’t fly because a painful blood clot had developed in his lung.
“I’m really disappointed I couldn’t make it to Newfoundland because the people there were so kind and generous, and I’ll never forget that. That meant a lot to me,” Sloan told The Telegram in a telephone interview from his home.
When word spread that Sloan wanted to visit Newfoundland as his dying wish, at least a dozen people from the province offered him everything from adventure tours to places to stay.
It was a rare bit of positivity in an otherwise seemingly endless stream of bleak life events.
As a child, he was sexually abused by his father.
He has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since, leaving him unable to work and living below the poverty line.
Of it all, his positivity is perhaps most shocking.
“You have to look at the bright side,” he said.
“I’m not going to make it, (but) there’s still that wonderful gift of human kindness.”
Recently, his health has worsened.
Sloan describes poor eyesight, high blood sugars and confused thoughts.
“I think it’s fair to say I’m going downhill, and, unfortunately, rather quickly.”
For Sloan, medically-assisted death is “the best option of no good options.”
He said his other choice is likely choking to death.
“I think we should offer people a choice to say, I don’t want this kind of horrible death,” he said.
“We euthanize our pets because we care about them, and we don’t want them to suffer. I don’t want to equate people with pets, but someday we’re going to have to bridge that controversy that, you know, why are we so thoughtful to our pets and yet we sometimes let people suffer terribly?”
While he plans for his death, Sloan remains focused on the things for which he is grateful.
Most recently, it was meeting Lloyd Robertson when he was interviewed by CTV News.
His advice for anyone receiving difficult health-related news is to take time to enjoy every day.
“Try to stay positive, and sometimes that’s tough, but you’ve got to. You can’t curl up in a ball and cry. You deserve to enjoy the time you have," he said. “I just refuse to get down.”
Ironically, some of Sloan’s happiest moments have occurred in the months since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“This may sound unusual, but in my past, there was sexual assault, other types of assault, there was alcohol in the family and not great things.
“And this may be hard for people to understand, but at no point in my life since I found out that I had cancer — and was dying of it — have I felt more validated by the kindness of people. And, by all means, the people of Newfoundland.
“So, as I say, there’s always something good that comes out of not-great things.”
Unable to use his GoFundMe money for the trip to Newfoundland, Sloan said he will instead make a donation to Ontario charity Youth Opportunities Unlimited.