27 August 2020

Mike's story

Mo Bro Mike on the challenges of a life-changing diagnosis and the importance of conversations

 Mike Gilbert is a 43-year-old Canadian and motorbike enthusiast  living in New Zealand. He first came across the Movember movement in 2017, when he embarked on an epic charity fundraising ride across Australia.
 Just two years on, he never expected he would be facing his own health battle. After a shock cancer diagnosis late last year, his focus is now firmly on driving conversations about men’s health, to ensure other blokes are getting regular check-ups.    

Mike is all about motorbikes. From running his own motorbike rental store to kick-starting trips around New Zealand’s roads from his hometown in Blenheim, he’s always been at home on two wheels.
Since 2017, Mike has raised over $2,000 by taking part in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), a global motorcycle fundraising event supporting Movember. DGR unites classic and vintage bike riders, like Mike, from all over the world to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health.
On top of DGR, in 2018 Mike also accompanied 23-year-old Brit Henry Crew on the Australian-leg of his world record success of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by motorcycle, all the while raising funds and awareness for men’s health. Mike and Henry’s legendary ride Down Under saw them navigate almost 7,000 kilometres from Perth to Brisbane, raising over $5,000 and starting important conversations along the way.

“Some of the most meaningful conversations I had crossing the country were with strangers who were curious about what we were doing. When they heard about how Movember was involved, they would often open up and share very interesting and personal stories of struggles and related experiences.”

After three years of supporting Movember, and spreading the word about men’s health, Mike never thought he would be the one needing help. At 43 years old, he was shocked to receive a diagnosis of colo-rectal cancer in the days following Christmas last year.

Noticing signs that weren’t ‘normal’, like numbness and pain, Mike made his way to the GP for a bunch of tests, scans and lengthy chats with specialists, eventually leading to the discovery of his colorectal tumour, which had spread to his hip joint and spots on his lungs. Mike was hit with Stage 4 incurable cancer.
“I was completely shocked and devastated by my diagnosis and felt sort of ‘cast aside’ by the universe. After some time passed I began to move toward accepting my condition. I wanted to help others who may be suffering the same thing or encourage others to get themselves checked out early and prevent them having to go through what I am.”
“I thought colo-rectal cancer was something for old people, not something a 43-year old ‘healthy’ man could get.”
Following his diagnosis, Mike feels grateful for the time he’s got to appreciate the important stuff in life.
“I have become less anxious about the little day-to-day things in life and just focus on the big picture stuff.
“I’m grateful every morning I wake up and take time to enjoy a lot of things that I used to take for granted like nice weather, a cool breeze, my son’s giggles or just a hug from my wife Sam.”
 At Movember we encourage men to get familiar with themselves and ‘know their normal’. If you notice something that doesn’t feel quite right, find a doctor you trust and talk to them about what’s worrying you.