Patient Care

How a ‘Marathon’ is Helping Leukemia Patient’s Mindset: Mike’s Story

Jan. 30, 2023

Over the past 20 years, Mike Reinhardt has run races all over the country, but the marathon he completed on Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Sixth Floor (WCC6) has a special meaning because it’s kept him focused on something besides his current challenge: Treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.

He had routine blood work done the morning of Dec. 30. That afternoon, his primary care doctor called and told him he had to go to Wilmot right away.

His WCC6 nursing team gave him a sheet soon after he was admitted so he could keep track of his walking. He would tally his laps around the unit; 12 laps around equals one mile.

Some days he does a lot, some days he does little, but every day he tries to do something.

“Even on chemo, I tried to get up and push the pole around the unit and stay moving,” he said.

It’s not only the physical activity that’s helped him but also having a goal. He’s been goal-oriented his whole life – but the challenge is, his cancer treatment doesn’t have an end date yet.

He started with an oral drug and then had IV chemotherapy. He most recently started on a clinical trial for a drug called crenolanib with his doctor, Jane Liesveld, MD.

A bone marrow biopsy will show how the experimental drug is working. Of course, his ultimate goal is to be able to go home soon, where he can stay active and eventually get back to his regular running routine. He dreams of being on the starting line of a race in the fall.

But for now, he’ll keep walking around WCC6, where he just finished his first cancer center marathon. The staff on the unit helped him celebrate. He says he’s so grateful for the good care he’s received from his team.

“I’m so appreciative. There’s not a word,” he says. “It really has been a part of getting better.”

His own mindset throughout his hospital stay has also helped him push forward.

“I’ve approached this battle as you approach any type of race,” he says. “You can have a bad mile and shake it off and hope the next mile is a good mile. There are bad miles and there are good miles and you have to keep working through it.”