Mike Levine, 68, looks like a finely tuned athlete riding through his Carlsbad neighborhood, but a few months ago, he barely had enough strength to cross the street.
The retired salesman was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2015.
“I have less than a one percent chance of making it five years, and since the diagnosis, I’m already two and a half years into it,” he said.
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of any major cancer, and Levine had lost hope.
“We were petrified,” he told NBC 7. “We figured this was close to the end.”
But his wife Jan wouldn’t give up.
“I knew that if I could somehow get some of those old friends of his, if I could get them around him, maybe the spark would happen,” she explained. After meeting up with triathletes, including Ironman champion Kathleen McCartney, Levine regained his will to survive and set a new challenge for himself.
“I'm gonna go out and do what I want and not let cancer control me, and I'm gonna do Ironman,” he said.
With his training partner by his side, Levine will be the first Stage IV pancreatic cancer patient to cross the Ironman finish line in Kona, Hawaii next month.
“I have watched him come back to life,” Jan said. “He had given up hope.”
Because of his condition, Levine was given an Ironman ambassador slot, and he still gets emotional, watching the video of the announcement.
“We've been given this opportunity to do something amazing, and once we achieve it we want to share this with the world,” he said.
Now Levine's mission is to educate and inspire. He will have to go through chemo for the rest of his life – however long that is, and he'll keep reminding those going through hard times, to never give up.
“Anything is possible, and we're out to prove that," he said.