I don’t just let anyone into my living room. That goes for strangers and for people on TV. If I sit down and watch a newscast, I (like a lot of people) develop a relationship with the people I watch. It’s a first name basis thing. “Oh, there’s Howard, Megan, Maggie, Byron, Melanie, Faith, David — ” well, you get it.
TV is a transient profession. You get out of college, you start at a small market and work your way up the food chain. Jackson isn’t a small market, but it isn’t a huge one either. You have two types of folks on TV. Legacy anchors, who have made Jackson home (or it already was), and those who have an eye on a bigger prize. That’s why you might never get to know a weekend meteorologist’s name. He or she might move to a bigger market in six months to a year.
Mike Sands came to us from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after a stop in Greenville. Paired with the talented Faith Payne, they were the faces I’d see when I’d tune into the 9 p.m. news on Fox40. Mike always seemed affable and did a good job. Then he faced the fight for his life. At 27, he was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a beast of a cancer that has had him fighting ever since.
The only time I have personally met Mike is when he came on my radio show. He was in the middle of fighting a recurrence of the cancer and, I’ll be honest, our studio wasn’t big enough to fit his spirit and will to live. I can’t describe it. As optimistic and strong as Mike Sands seems on TV and on social media, in person it was even more powerful.
You can’t help but pull for him. He’s the upbeat person who comes into your living room every night, after all.
WLBT (whose parent company also owns Fox40) posted a tearful video that I watched this morning. The chemo is no longer stopping his cancer’s spread. He is going home to Philadelphia to try immunotherapy as a last shot. Mike was choked up but still strong. Faith Payne was trying to be strong, too. I know this is hard on her as well.
As a cancer survivor, I sat there and watched a strong man live my worst nightmare. The darkness in the room was pierced by the light from my phone and from Mike’s remaining strength.
Part of me thinks, “Dammit, this isn’t fair. Here is a guy who has done EVERYTHING right.” Part of me prayed. And part of me thinks one of the best ways we all can honor Mike’s fight is to go out there and live our lives with the same gusto and strength he has exhibited.
TV folks come and go out of Jackson and our lives. I’m glad Mike Sands stopped into ours. He has set the bar high for how passionate we all should live our lives.
I pray the immunotherapy does its job, Mike gets his well-deserved miracle and he can come back into our living rooms sometime soon.