- SPECIAL REPORTS
- THE MAGAZINE
By Raygan Swan, NASCAR.COM
January 11, 2010
04:37 PM EST
Nascar.com: Nearly six years ago, after diagnosed with liver cancer, Michael Hayes, in so many words, was told to go home and wait for the inevitable.
There were no experimental medications to be taken or new drug trials to enter. The doctors gave him an estimated six weeks to live. He was homebound and in a wheelchair.
An unimaginable fate for anyone, yes, but especially difficult for a die-hard cowboy who still wears his one and only first-place bull-riding trophy around his waist -- a belt buckle Hayes won in the fall of 1980 on the Western OK Rodeo circuit.
"Cowboy Up," he said.
And that's what the Arkansas native did.
"That term refers to someone, anyone who finds themselves in between a rock and a hard place to just do what has to be done," Hayes said. "If you fall off then get up, dust yourself off and keep trying. Kind of like that wheelchair. Not really my type of horse, but no one ever seems to climb out of anything as quickly as one falls in."
Now beating the odds one day at a time, Hayes seemingly is using absolute will power to outlive the death sentence handed to him six years ago.
He'll tell you it's a combination of things -- "keeping the faith" and the care and attention from his wife -- but something else has helped Hayes cope with the solitude that comes with terminal cancer.
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