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Staring cancer in the face

Michael Fahey has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Like the early morning he decided to walk his dog Geo near the Wilson Farms on Parkside Avenue, and a teen ran into him with a cash drawer.

Fahey yelled, and a nearby patrol car was alerted. A second teen was found hiding under a car in a nearby Woodward Avenue garage, after the foiled convenience-store holdup, with a gun still in his hand.

Fahey also was right on the night shift scene when it came to counseling his fellow police officers, as a confidential peer counselor with the department.

"Policemen see a lot of stuff, and it gets to some guys, who have anxiety and depression. They want to talk to someone who's been there," he says.

And now he's willing to be called in the middle of night as a volunteer cancer coach for the recently diagnosed.

Not that it will be easy for Fahey to take those 2 a.m. calls.

The 45-year-old retired police officer has also faced down cancer. He was diagnosed three years ago with advanced-stage testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes.

Yet he says: "I believe I'm the luckiest person in the world."

Fahey, named one of this year's Roswell Park Cancer Institute Stars of Hope, looks forward to his new counseling beat.

"It's more than a coincidence that I retired young and now have this opportunity. It involves a lot of listening. I remember what it was like," he says.

"My doctor told me I had a remarkable recovery. I always felt I was never just a patient, but a member of my health care team. I have responsibilities in my recovery by following my doctor's advice, learning as much as I can about this type of cancer and maintaining a great attitude."

Fahey underwent surgery and chemotherapy -- during which he managed to paint his Grand Island home three different colors, tan, yellow and police officer-blue.

With reaffirmed faith, he says he doesn't "sweat the small stuff."

"I'm much more relaxed about life's ups and downs," he said. "I look on every day as a new adventure, because you never know how long you've got."

"Make peace with yourself and show love to everyone you know and meet. And remember, there's always hope. New discoveries are being made every day. The power of your mind combined with modern medicine can make a difference."

Have an idea about a local person whose life would make a good profile or a neighborhood issue worth exploring? Write to: Louise Continelli, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240, or e-mail lcontinelli@buffnews.com

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