A fall from a tree led to a last-minute cancer diagnosis that saved a man’s life. Now his family has an important message to share about the disease.
Mike Henning is the police chief of Nortonville and a deputy sheriff in Jefferson County. He’s given decades of his life to serve his community and help people in need. Now his family is trying to serve the community too by sharing their story and a warning.
Three years ago Mike Henning was trimming a tree in his yard when he fell off a ladder and hurt his back. His wife Alice convinced him to go to a doctor, and that’s when they found stage four colon cancer.
“I asked the doctor, are you going to tell him or am I? Because they were certain it was cancer. That was the hardest thing I ever did in my life,” Alice Henning said.
His daughter Kelsey Ruhlman says his cancer fight was hard on the whole family.
“You don’t think it can get worse than stage 4b because that’s the worst, and then they tell you it’s gone elsewhere and your faith is gone,” Ruhlman said. “Honestly I didn’t think he’d be here now.”
Gone untreated doctors said Mike wouldn’t have lasted another month. After rounds and rounds of chemo and painful surgeries, doctors declared Mike cancer free.
But the battle wasn’t over yet. On Father’s Day he was admitted to KU Med where they found kidney stones and a movement disorder that were linked to the cancer treatment.
“You just have to refocus, because he is the most positive person, and the rest of us are just trying to not show him we’re upset about it, and he just says it’s good, I’m fine,” Ruhlman said.
That’s where he is now, recovering. Now Mike’s family is continuing his dedication to service in a different way, by sharing his story and urging people to get a colonoscopy early.
“Just because you feel ok, doesn’t mean you’re ok. Because like I said, he was fine, he was a healthy person, never sick,” Ruhlman said. “It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are, it can hit ya.”
“If we save one person, this is worth it,” Alice Henning said.
Kelsey said now every day with her dad is one she feels lucky for and she’s so thankful he gets to be here and be a grandfather to his three grandchildren.
Mike is expected to be able to go home with his family on Wednesday and those hospital bills are going home with him. If you want to help the family with their costs we’ve posted a link to their fundraiser here.