He was a grouch on Twitter until he learned he's got months to live
TORONTO -- Pinned to the top of Mike Sloan’s Twitter account are details for his own funeral; date to be determined.
“The owner just dropped off six beers, so how could I say no,” reads the tweet.
The 50-year-old London, Ont. resident has earned high praise for his honest depiction of living with terminal cancer, often addressing such taboo topics as assisted suicide and end-of-life care with a touch of comedy.
Diagnosed with stage four anaplastic thyroid cancer last February -- an aggressive, treatment-resistant cancer with a low survival rate -- Sloan made the decision to forgo chemotherapy treatment and enjoy the rest of his life.
At the time of his diagnosis, Sloan was told he had just six months to live. Though his condition has worsened and he has experienced complications, including a stroke, Sloan says his Twitter feed aims to show that “dying isn’t so bad.”
“I’m now starting to experience more problems, but every day is still enjoyable,” Sloan said during an interview on CTV’s Your Morning.
“We all think end of life is terrible -- and, of course, it is. But you can try to turn things around in your mind… I would not be here talking to you on this set, in this famous building, but for the fact that I’m dying of cancer.”
Sloan’s Twitter account bounces from honest depictions of his day-to-day life -- which includes palliative care and pain medication -- and questions of his own mortality, to bits of comedic relief.
In a string of tweets last week, Sloan noted that he was visited by a palliative care doctor after his tumour started to get in the way of his breathing. The doctor offered several options to extend his quality of life, including radiation, but only by a matter of weeks.
“The options to extend life for such a short period have heavy side effects and offer no guarantees. I'd have a hard time signing on to either,” he wrote.
Hours later he was back online with a bit of what he describes as dark comedy.
“What do you prefer at funeral receptions? Nanaimo bars or brownies,” he asked.
His tweets have attracted the attention of more than 11,000 Twitter users, including comedian Rick Mercer.
“You can find something positive out of anything,” Sloan told CTV’s Your Morning.
“I’ve been on Twitter for almost ten years and for many of those years I was a grouch. But with the news of what was happening with my life, I thought to myself I’ve got to turn this around somehow.”
Sloan has also used his platform to raise over $28,000 for an Ont.-based youth opportunities agency that builds youth and women’s shelters.
“That’s one of the positive legacies that have come from his,” he said.