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Edmond cancer survivor returns to Central America for victory run

Mike Wall, a longtime ministry leader at Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, ran 50 miles in Nicaragua — in celebration of his victory over skin cancer and to raise awareness about the deadly disease.
by Carla Hinton Modified: August 31, 2014 at 9:00 am •  Published: August 31, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the culmination of the Faith in the Summer series which highlighted some of the activities and outreach events that faith groups offered in the summer months.

Mike Wall spent two years battling disease.

Wall fought to extend his life’s journey with his wife and children.

He fought for more time to aid people around the world through Christian mission efforts with his Edmond church.

He fought for the opportunity to run with no limitations or worries.

Wall’s fight with skin cancer was to be the fight of his life.

This summer, Wall ran 50 miles through Nicaragua to raise awareness about melanoma.

As he ran along the Pan-American Highway, with the lush forests of the Central American country as a backdrop, the cancer survivor thought it only fitting that his victory run took place there.

For it was in Nicaragua that Wall, 51, learned that he had a fight on his hands.

Four years ago, while Wall was on a Henderson Hills Baptist Church medical mission trip to Nicaragua, a doctor helping with the effort saw a spot on Wall’s back and urged him to get it examined once he returned home.

Wall, a longtime ministry leader at the Southern Baptist church, 1200 E Interstate 35 Frontage Road, said Dr. William Smith’s timely advice was life-saving: Wall was diagnosed with melanoma, one of the most common and most deadly forms of cancer.

He said the news was shocking.

“You never think you’re going to hear your name and cancer in the same sentence.”

With his wife of 30 years, Vanda, and sons Josh and Caleb, plus his church family, giving him their prayers and support, Wall underwent treatment for the disease.

He said he had several surgeries to remove the cancer from his body and he considers himself extremely blessed because the disease was caught in the early stages.

Wall said before his diagnosis, he had been planning a miles-long trek in Nicaragua to raise awareness about education in that country.

He said he has grown to love the country over the years. He said he had visited places such as Chinadega and Somotillo for many years since he went there in 1998 with Henderson Hills missions teams in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.

Wall said he continued to run near his church and his Edmond neighborhood after he completed his cancer treatment. Soon, he began thinking it would be a good idea and a healthy goal to return to Nicaragua for the run he had initially planned.

“I thought now that I’ve gotten past that (cancer), I’m a survivor. I decided to go back and finish,” he said.

It would be a way to celebrate his triumph over skin cancer and a way to spread information about its potentially fatal impact.

“God says through our suffering, we can be encouraging to others.”

Nicaraguans embraced effort

Wall said he trained for six months so that he could make the 50-mile run through Nicaragua. He said he is a tennis player and an avid runner, but he previously had never run more than 20 miles.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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