A while back we told you about retired United States Air Force Brig. Gen. Henry Newcomer, who celebrated his 100th birthday (with a little help from his care team). The next day, we received a letter from another centenarian, Dick Mohler. He wrote to us about the lifesaving care he'd received at Mayo Clinic back in 1983, and — after casually mentioning that he jumps on a trampoline every day — asked if we might like to "greet or meet the man" that Mayo has "kept in health these 33 years since their surgery." It was an offer we couldn't refuse. (But alas, since Dick is in Texas, and we are in Minnesota, we had to settle for greet rather than meet.)
Dick's trip to Mayo back in '83 came as he and his wife, Nora, were en route to their summer home in northern Minnesota. He'd had some problems with his bladder, and decided to have it "checked out" at Mayo, where his niece was completing her medical training. It turned out the news was not good. Dick was told he had bladder cancer and that even with surgery, he was unlikely to survive more than six months. His heartbroken niece informed Dick that she'd talked to four of his doctors, and all were in agreement about the diagnosis. His response: "Honey, no one who feels as much alive as I do can be dead in six months."
The rest, as they say, is history. After surgery, Dick and Nora were taught how to care for his urostomy. "I've worn it during roof jobs and house building without any difficulty, and have never had an infection or any complications," he tells us. And in follow-up visits to Mayo, Dick heard year after year that he was cancer-free. (He tells us he also heard, over the years, about the passing of the doctors who had originally diagnosed him.)
Dick tells us he wrote to share his "deep appreciation for services received at Mayo Clinic" — and for the many things he's been able to enjoy in the 33 years since then. Things like watching his family grow (including a grandson born just minutes after doctors completed his surgery), attending church events and renewing friendships. (He even joined Facebook.) Dick's doctor in Texas calls him "his oldest and healthiest patient," and predicts he could live to 118. (Dick's response? "Why put a limit on it?")
When we asked for some tips on living well, Dick told us he credits his longevity in part to a promise he made to his Sunday school teacher when he was 7 years old. "I shook hands with her and promised to never smoke, drink or use drugs, and I never have," he says. He also credits a "longevity diet," those daily trampoline sessions, and other exercises he does regularly. But perhaps the most important advice, he believes, is keeping a positive attitude. "The real secret," he tell us, "is to discover the goodies God drops in our day."
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