Cowboy and cancer survivor Mike Brashear launches a 10-week goal to give back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through his Cowboy Up Against Cancer campaign.

Six years ago, Colorado horseman and working cowboy Mike Brashear was riding horses and working cattle in northern Colorado as normal, except he wasn’t feeling like himself. He was tired and had suffered chest and side pain. He chalked it up to extra winter pounds and needing to get in shape; however, after a visit to the emergency room he found out his condition was much worse. On May 21, 2014, at 39 years old, Brashear was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a rare and aggressive form of the disease, and it changed his and his family’s lives forever.

Following a 30-day stay at University of Colorado Health Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, Brashear spent eight months receiving treatment that lasted seven hours a day, five days a week. Light sensitivity from the treatment hindered Brashear’s exposure to horses and the outdoors, and he couldn’t ride for a while. It was an emotionally and financially draining time for Brashear, his wife, Laura, and their three children Colten, Aubrey and Braidynne.

A naturally positive and motivated person, Brashear wasn’t going to let cancer knock him down for long. He considered it a challenge and he was a player on a team that consisted of his family and friends, and his doctors who were his coaches.

On December 30, 2014, the day after he turned 40 years old, Brashear received his final treatment. Since then, he has had regular checkups, but this past December, after his appointment, his doctor announced that he’d won his battle with cancer and required no further monitoring.

Mike Brashear survived leukemia.
Northern Colorado horseman Mike Brashear applied many of the same principles he uses to help horses and riders overcome challenges when he was faced with cancer.

Grateful for the support he received and the treatments available to him during his five-year fight, Brashear is on a mission to help the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raise more than $2 million for research and patient advocacy. His 10-week fundraising campaign, Cowboy Up Against Cancer, runs from March 5 to May 16. He challenges his fellow working cowboys and others in the agricultural industry to join his campaign and contribute what they can to his cause.

“Every dollar counts, so give what you can,” he says. “If it wasn’t for research that led to the treatments, I wouldn’t be here. I’m determined to keep finding ways to do good for those battling cancer or who might get it.”

Knowing the resiliency and strength of cowboys and ag families, Brashear wants to show how supportive people in his community are, even on limited incomes.

Mike Brashear survived leukemia.
Brashear won his battle with cancer and is now raising money for the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through his Cowboy Up Against Cancer campaign that runs from March 5 to May 16.

“If 200,000 cowboys would give $5 each, we could raise $1 million on cowboy wages alone,” he points out. “If we can do that, think of how much money could be raised by everyone.”

Brashear is one of 20 men and women nominated for the Rocky Mountain LLS’s annual Man & Woman of the Year. The male and female nominees that raise the most money are crowned Man & Woman of the Year on May 16 at the annual LLS gala event in Denver, Colorado. Humbled by the nomination, Brashear sees his role a little differently, however.

“This isn’t about me,” he says. “This is about everyone working as a team to fight cancer. You never know who it might affect.”

Mike Brashear and his family lived through his battle with leukemia.
Brashear’s wife, Laura, and his three kids stood by his side throughout treatment. Laura is writing a book about her family’s experience with leukemia in hope of helping others.

Brashear has several individuals on his team raising money for Cowboy Up Against Cancer over the next 10 weeks through benefit ropings and other fundraising efforts. Donations are being accepted at bit.ly/cowboyupagainstcancer through May 16.

For more information, visit on this Facebook page, Cowboy Up Against Cancer.

Read more about Brashear’s Cowboy Up Against Cancer campaign in the March 2020 issue of Western Horseman.

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