14, 2004 UPDATE
Comments: Mikey O
Beating the Odds
By BARBARA WILLIAMS
Doctors told Michael O'Loughlin he had a year to live.
That was 14 months ago, and the middle of May saw him
riding his motorcycle to PBA meetings and taking his
two small boys to a local circus with his wife.
"They were wrong before, and I'm betting they'll
be wrong again," O'Loughlin said. "I'm going
to be around for a long time."
O'Loughlin, 37, known to friends as "Mikey
O" is a Cresskill police sergeant who was
diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in March 2003.
Although he has undergone radical, painful, and
invasive treatments, most who know him say he's
beating his prognosis through sheer willpower.
"Before he got sick, Mickey was always upbeat,
making jokes," said fellow officer and close
friend, Jeremy Luciano. "That hasn't changed, he
still maintains that positive attitude. I think all of
this has just made him stronger."
O'Loughlin's life this past year was enough to break
the spirit of even the most optimistic of patients.
But O'Loughlin says he has no choice but to fight.
Giving up is not an option. Thankfully, he doesn't
remember some of the more horrific times, his wife,
Mary Catherine, said.
"While going through chemo, he had to be
hospitalized a number of times, but he doesn't
remember a lot of that because of the drugs,"
Mary Catherine said. "He also doesn't remember
hallucinating after surgery."
The past 14 months were filled with chemotherapy
treatments topped off with a 12-hour surgery procedure
that nearly killed him. The operation, performed in
Washington D.C., is performed on very few patients,
and O'Loughlin waited months to hear if he qualified
Doctors removed his peritoneum (lining of the
abdominal cavity), which included the protective
covering of his lungs and other vital organs. The
procedure is so intricate, after only three hours into
it, doctors told Mary Catherine that they didn't think
he was going to make it. They were going to sew him
back up and let nature take its course.
"When they started the operation, they expected
to find a small number of tumors after the year of
chemotherapy, but they found over 200," Mary
Catherine said. "They were in his bladder, colon,
kidneys, liver, appendix, everywhere - you name it.
But the good news was that even though they were in
the lining of his lungs, the inside of his lungs were
Miraculously, once the horrible news was delivered to
Mary Catherine, O'Loughlin's vital signs were so
strong that the doctors decided to continue with the
operation. That decision has given him a fighting
"I'm so glad they went back in," O'Loughlin
said. "Cause here I am today, riding my bike,
doing more things than I have in a while, and getting
Getting through the surgery was only a part of the
battle, though. Soon after the procedure, O'Loughlin
was pumped full of chemo through I.V.'s in the sides
of his body.
"They would put this stuff in, and then roll me
over every half hour for it to wash over all of my
tissues and organs," O'Loughlin said. "I was
like a chicken on a rotisserie. And it was painful -
here it was hard for me to even sit up and they made
me help in rolling myself over."
O'Loughlin was in Washington Medical Center for four
weeks, where doctors said the operation could prolong
his life by a year, possibly longer. O'Loughlin is
positive the time will be longer, but Mary Catherine
is just as concerned about the quality of that time as
"He's had a really rough year," Mary
Catherine said. "At first I just wanted him
around as long as possible so his boys would know him,
but now I want him to be able to really enjoy the
The O'Loughlins have two boys, ages five and three. In
addition to taking care of them, helping her husband
through his various treatments, and working as a
special education teacher, she is now taking on her
insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
"They said this last procedure was the equivalent
of 15 separate surgeries, so they're paying 80 percent
for the initial portion, and only 50 percent on the
remaining other 14 parts of it," Mary Catherine
said. "I had to walk into the hospital with a
check for $20,000 for them to even do the
It is this type of problem, though, that has given
purpose to the hundreds of people who have rallied to
the family's plight. Fundraisers have been ongoing
over the past year, sponsored by members of the police
department as well as local residents.
"I never thought I would see 20 something guys
come together for one cause," Luciano said.
"But everyone in the department has done that,
and they continue to do it. That doesn't count what
we're getting from people we don't even know.
"I received checks from people in Arizona,
Louisiana, retired cops or just people reading about
Mikey on his website," Luciano said.
The support from family, friends, the department, and
the community at large is what keeps the O'Loughlin
family going, Mary Catherine said.
"It's outrageous, knowing I can just make one
phone call and this whole chain gets started
immediately," she said. "I know we still
have a long road ahead, and this is what gets me
O'Loughlin still faces an as-of-yet undetermined
course of chemotherapy. But he has put it off until
after the family takes a much-needed vacation in North
Carolina this summer.
"Last year when I went, I had a reaction to the
chemo so I couldn't touch anything cold or be in
direct sunlight," O'Loughlin said. "That
really affects what you can do at the beach.
"This year will just be fun and relaxing, and I
can't wait. I'll deal with the chemo when I get back,
but the way I'm feeling, nothing's slowing me
To send donations, or for updates on O'Loughlin's
progress, you can check his website: http://www.members.cox.net/mikeyocancerfund.
remember to visit Mikey's web site at
Please sign the guest book!!