9 December 2023

Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael Milton displays the courage of a champion as he faces yet another cancer battle

| Tim Gavel
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Michael Milton. Photo: Facebook.

Michael Milton – remaining positive just before he underwent surgery. Photo: FB.

Michael Milton must feel as though he is back at the top of Les Arcs in France preparing to ski faster than any other Australian. Despite being aware of the dangers, there must have remained a sense of the unknown.

It’s now history that he traversed the slopes of France on one leg at a speed of 213.65 kilometres per hour.

But Michael now faces that same uncertainty as he battles his third primary cancer after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour in his rectum.

The surgery on Friday followed a diagnosis of stage two bowel cancer.

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Before surgery, he posted on Facebook that he was looking to the future.

“I am trying to stay positive and think forward to a time when this is all over and my health is back to normal-abnormal so that, at least occasionally, I will have the energy to do the stuff that I love.”

people bushwalkng

Michael Milton at an Ultra-Trail Australia event. Photo: File.

One of his greatest loves is actively engaging with his family in whatever activity comes their way. But because he is in hospital, he will miss seeing his son Angus carrying the flag onto the field for this week’s Prime Ministers IX cricket game at Manuka.

It must be heartbreaking for him to miss this event, but Michael knows that he has to take each day at a time. He’s been through this before and he’s well versed on the impact of cancer.

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As a nine-year-old, he had his leg removed from the knee down following bone cancer.

It proved to be no barrier as he went on to become Australia’s most successful Winter Paralympian with six gold, three silver and two bronze medals at five Paralympics.

Michael Milton photographed for Australian Cyclist in 2009. Photo: Stefan Postles of Chalk Studio.

Michael Milton photographed for Australian Cyclist in 2009. Photo: Stefan Postles of Chalk Studio.

Then, in 2007, he had a battle with esophageal cancer. A year later, he was competing as a cyclist at the Beijing Summer Paralympics.

Now, he is again fighting another primary cancer.

His greatest supporter, wife Penny, described the removal of the tumour following the diagnosis of bowel cancer as pretty full-on.

“Michael had five and a half hours of surgery. He’s okay; he’s tough. It’s just hard, and it sucks. They removed the tumour. There was no indication of metastasising or lymph node involvement. We will know more following further tests. But three primary cancers is pretty rare, and the bowel cancer is not related to any other cancers he’s had.”

At 50 years of age and undergoing treatment for his third round of cancer, Penny intimated that he wasn’t the easiest patient in the hospital system.

“He has a good working knowledge of the hospital system. He asks lots of questions. All said and done, he’s doing well.”

Dedicated Harry Potter fan, Michael Milton at his Quizzic Alley store. Photo: File.

Michael would be drawing on the fortitude that made him a Paralympic champion with an ability to achieve what nobody else has been able to, including setting a world record for running a marathon with crutches, or completing Kokoda twice, or scaling Mt Kilimanjaro.

He will draw upon the love and support of his close-knit family and his wide circle of friends. He should also tap into the inspiration he has provided to so many others through his incredible feats.

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Peter Funnell10:39 am 12 Dec 23

This has come as shock however if there is anyone who can beat this, Michael can. Such an inspirational human being who loves life and understands only too well the use of exercise as a way to good mental and physical health. Also, a great family man. I wish Michael and Penny a wonderful future they both deserve. I have booked Michael on more than one occasion as an inspirational and motivational speaker. He is one of the best. Peter

jonathan gaul1:31 pm 10 Dec 23

Stay strong Michael. We need your inspiration.

Great story by Tim Gavel and go Michael Milton a real inspiration for us.
Sometimes when things get tough you can get a good perspective seeing what other people are facing.

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