Stage-Four Cancer Survivor Finding New Life with ‘Dawg Culture’
The year is 2009.
A former player under UAlbany head coach, Greg Gattuso, Michael Hill has already had a taste of the NFL. He's been a part of the Washington (then Redskins, now) Football Team Organization, and is fresh off of a successful season playing arena football. He's poised for another great year in the AFL, and a likely return to the top of football's highest peak.
Then, come the itches. At first, they're periodic, and he's able to brush them off. Time goes on, Hill continues to play, and the itching gets worse. Doctors recommend dermatologists, dermatologists recommend new soaps, new laundry detergents, new everything.
Still, the itches continue.
They become so bad, in fact, that Mike Hill is forced to retire from his AFL career. He continues to work out, chasing his dream, and feels a knot in his neck. Assuming its from a workout, Hill casually asks a nurse to examine it on his way out of a hospital, after having a completely separate check-up.
It was no knot. It was stage-four Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The game was over, for the time being, but the battle had just begun.
Mike Hill is one of the nicest people you will ever have the pleasure to come across. His smile instantly lit up the 104.5 The Team studios, and his charisma and love for life was infectious. It was mind-boggling to me to get to talk to Mike, and realize that this same ray of sunshine personality had gone through hell just a decade earlier.
Here's a bit of background on Mike's story:
To make this long story short may be foolish, but I'm going to try, and you can listen to Part 2 of our chat with Mike below to hear the rest. Mike began chemotherapy treatment for his lymphoma, and had moderate success with. As many do, Hill attempted to find another form of treatment to complete his battle with cancer.
This method was met with less success, however, and more chemo was introduced.
Mike was told he was going to die. Twice, actually. Once, it came in the form of an invitation to "take a cruise" and "see what the world has to offer" while he still had the chance. The second time, it was more blunt. The doctors claimed they had nothing left they could do for him.
So, Mike Hill did exactly the opposite of what he was told to do. He continued to work out, he went out in public, and despite his weakened immune system and constant threat of getting deathly ill, he continued to get stronger. He embraced his cravings in order to keep down whatever food he could. He kept working.
And damn it, he won.
In winning, Hill realized that he had more to offer in this life than football. With his recovery, and his new focus on spreading his story to those affected by cancer who were currently battling, he adopted the "Dawg Culture" mentality.
Let's break it down, shall we? Desire, attitude, will, and grind. Desire is pretty straight forward. You have to have the want, the need, the unrelenting desire to accomplish the goal that's set in front of you. In order to accomplish what you desire, you also need to have the right attitude about you. Attitude is everything when accomplishing something.
Will is a bit more convoluted, but just as important. A person's will allows them to decide on a course of action, and then act upon that decision. Having a strong will means you'll make even the toughest of decisions, if you truly believe it will benefit you. Of course, you must end with the grind. The grind is the hardest part, but the most rewarding oftentimes, as well.
Mike Hill coined the term, and it has since taken off. Hill was featured in a Sports Illustrated article about his "Dawg Culture" mentality, and how new Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni instituted it with his group this season. Hill also has a website, which you should check out.
Now, in 2021, Hill is cancer-free, and spreading his message to those who need it most. He's smiling from ear to ear, and as he told Charlie and I, he's grateful for even the smallest of blessings that life has to offer. Yes, even sitting in a stuffy radio studio with us.
It was an honor to shake your hand, Mike Hill. Keep fighting the good fight. It's too important not to.
LISTEN TO PART TWO HERE