Monday, August 8, 2022

Lance Mackey gives update on health

The mushing community and fandom heard from one of its greatest legends this past weekend when four-time Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey spoke with Iditarod Insider's Greg Heister to give an update on the former champion's health. You may remember last year Mackey announced that his cancer had returned, but that didn't seem to slow Mackey down. Lance leased/sold his team to give the dogs a chance to run throughout the winter, and then focused on his health, family, and car racing. 

Fans didn't hear much from the musher himself, though every once in a while a friend posted pictures hanging out with the larger than life personality. Still, not much was being shared outside of his circle and as the mushing season of 2022 got underway many let it slip their mind that Lance was in another fight for his life. 

Rumblings of Lance's condition started to circulate in June as fans gathered at the Iditarod picnic. Whispers saying that Lance was "not doing well" was the worry no one seemed to want to say too loudly for fear of making it true. But true it seems to be as Lance Mackey would tell Greg Heister on August 4, 2022 that he'd been taken to first the MatSu Regional Hospital in Wasilla before being transferred to Providence Hospital in Anchorage right after Memorial Day weekend. 

By the end of June through the first part of August Mackey reported he had been in "hospitals or hospital like environments" sharing that when he wasn't in the hospital he was essentially bed ridden. While the two original "dark shadows" from his original diagnosis have been "taken care of" and are "gone," "other issues" have come up and "progressed rapidly." Lance also confessed that he does not want to know what his prognosis is, and that he feels like he has a lot of life left. He's on oxygen but says he can still walk - though he isn't getting around much right now - and says that he's lost at least thirty pounds and is "a rack of bones."

"I'm not scared of nothin'," Mackey told Heister, "It is what it is, and I ain't any more important than the rest of the people on this planet. When it's my stop, I'll get off the bus." He continued, "I'm more scared for my kids, you know, they've been a little traumatized," referring to the loss of their mother in 2020. Mackey's youngest son and daughter are staying with family while their dad is in the hospital. He's kept them away from most doctor visits, and they've only seen him a couple of times in the hospital. With their being so young he doesn't want them to be scared, and he doesn't want only negative feelings to be associated with doctors and hospitals. 

"It sucks, man, it sucks. I ain't gonna lie to you, it hurts, and it's a little bit emotional. But, it's reality, and you can't change that, ya know."

The interview runs just over 13 minutes with Heister, and the Iditarod chose to share the interview audio in full on their facebook page. You can listen to the full interview here.

After the interview was released, Lance Mackey took to his facebook page to share a condensed update saying much of the same as what the interview shared. 

When asked by Greg Heister if Lance had anything he wished to relay to his fans, Mackey spent a good deal of time apologizing for his "letting his supporters down" after 2020 when he tested positive for meth at the conclusion of the 2020 Iditarod. Lance acknowledged this was the first time he really had time to speak on it as he went from "the embarrassment" to going into rehab on the East Coast, to coming home and losing his partner-the mother of his children-Jenne. From there he was diagnosed with the return of his cancer. He hasn't fully spoken out about how sorry he was for letting everyone down.

Knowing Lances supportive fanbase, however, he need not worry about apologizing. Most who have followed his career know that he's been dealt a far crappier hand than most and they continue to encourage and pull for the king of comebacks. 

The entire mushing community is joining in pulling for Lance to make yet another comeback.