The world knows Miles O'Brien as an Emmy Award-winning journalist and television personality. I've been proud to call him my friend for the past 52 years.
Miles, who has recently been in the news for having his arm amputated, shared the story of his accident and subsequent surgery in a blog entry titled "Just a Flesh Wound." However, the attention Miles has received has been more about his winning attitude than the accident itself. His positive outlook has inspired people worldwide and generated well wishes from around the globe.
The first time I saw Miles after his accident was via iChat. He had all kinds of great things to say about Lesscancer.org's recent National Cancer Prevention Day -- turning the focus away from himself as if he had truly suffered just a flesh wound. Miles was breezily chatting away as if he were piloting an airplane, announcing calmly to his passengers that they would be hitting a little turbulence, nothing to worry about.
Then I felt it... a weighty, wet, salty tear slip out of the corner of my eye. All I could think to do was not have him see me, so I quickly bent down so he would not see that I had started to cry. As I crouched down out of sight, I wondered how I could disappear -- all the time telling myself to pull it together. From the computer screen above my head I heard, "Come on, Couz, it's ok -- I'm ok."
Several years ago I had a benign tumor removed from my spine. Miles once called me from a bunker in Israel to see how I was doing. As I lay in a neuro trauma unit in the hospital talking to him, I saw him on CNN with war violence as a backdrop!
Who does that?
As I iChatted with Miles he told me he was going to do the Lesscancer.org Bike Ride to Mackinac this year. He said, "I am not sure I can do the whole 300 miles in two days, but I am going to give it a try and may have to sit in a sag car every now and then." Of course this is what Miles is going to do -- what else do you do but ride in a two-day, 300-mile bike ride after having your arm amputated?
The Lesscancer. org Bike Ride to Mackinac was founded by Suzi Tobias, best friend of Miles's sister Aileen who died from breast cancer. Suzi, who traveled much of the breast cancer journey with Aileen, last year rode the whole 300 miles in just two days, cycling from Port Huron to Mackinac, Michigan.
Miles is on the board of the Next Generation Choices Foundation, more widely known as Lesscancer.org. When I founded the organization in 2004, few others saw the "white elephant" in the room relative to increased incidences of cancer. Not Miles, though -- he was that guy who instantly got it and understood the importance of getting answers and solutions for cancer prevention. Miles got the fact that our work was not so much about us, but rather our kids and future generations.
So, in typical Miles style, on July 12 he will be departing Port Huron, Michigan, pedaling his bike northward one mile at a time come hell or high water, working again to help others by riding for Less Cancer.
Follow Bill Couzens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lesscancer