My brother-in-law Michael Lovato is a fighter.  No other way to describe it.  Today, he lies in a hospital room in Casper, WY fighting cancer.  He has already fought and won two rounds of kidney transplants.  Mix in a courageous fight this year against cancer, which just some three weeks ago he was declared “cancer-free”.  Our entire family rejoiced that God had been with Mike and he had beaten the big C.  But now, in just the last week, a very progressive cancer has spread and taken over his body and mind.  The prognosis is grim.  I know if there is anyone who can beat it, it is Mike, but at this point, it looks like a heavenly intervention would be required.

Lovatos_Grandpa

Stevie, Mike, Grandpa, Stephanie and Ashley

My sister, Stephanie, is such a strong woman, or at least she shows herself to be.  I do not know how she remains so strong with all she and Mike have been through.  It is amazing, to say the least.  I am so proud of her for demonstrating such strength and courage in the face of adversity, but I know on the inside, she is weeping like the rest of us.  I’m sure she has her private moments where she let’s it out.  That is good…she needs to.  I know she is trying to be so strong for my nephew, Stephen, and my niece Ashley, both of whom are also showing amazing strength.  My thoughts and prayers are nearly exclusively with them all.

Mike entering our family over 12 years ago was truly a blessing for my sister and my niece.  Mike became the father figure Ashley so desperately needed and longed for.  While he is, on paper, only her step-father, it does not ever feel that way.  He loves Ashley as if she was his very own.  And Ashley needed that.  So did Stephanie.  Then, thanks to Mike, we were blessed with the addition of Stephen some 10 years ago.  What an awesome, strong young man he is.  I can only imagine what is going on in his head.  He absolutely idolizes his father (and rightfully so).  I know Stevie will be the same fighter Mike is, I just pray he doesn’t face a fraction of the battles his father has.  I hope his battles will be the fun kind, as he continues his pursuit of his black belt.

I feel helpless sitting here in Overland Park while my big sister is going through this; but that’s what she wants.  She told me on the phone she wants me to stay here–she doesn’t want me to remember Mike how he is right now.  She wants me to remember him as the champion fighter he has always been.  And I will, no doubt.  This is just another sign of how strong my sister is.  I want to be there for her, but she wants to be there exclusively for Mike.  I respect and understand that.

Cancer is the most hideous disease I can ever imagine.  It takes far too many people, far too soon.  I pray for the miracle that will allow Mike to win this fight.  He is definitely up against the ultimate opponent.  While the odds may be against him right now, I know that I, for one, don’t count him out.

Sending love to and prayers for Mike, Stephanie, Stevie and Ashley, along with the rest of my family,

–RElledge

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