Mike Leo, diagnosed at 57

I have always been an active guy. I worked out four to five times a week (cardio and strength) and maintained a very active lifestyle playing tennis, swimming and skiing. I was rarely sick but I had a fairly stressful job and home life.

I started to show signs of fatigue—needing frequent naps, and having general tiredness. I worked from home and would have to set an alarm on my lunch break to make sure I woke up in time to get back to work.

Another symptom was a very rapid jump from being pre-diabetic to diabetic (my A1C numbers nearly doubled). I also had unexplained back pain with no relief, and lost 10 pounds unintentionally. All of these I attributed to signs of aging.

I went on a weekend ski trip. I had no appetite all day, even after burning energy skiing. The next day, I was fine. This was very strange for me, so when I got home I contacted my primary care provider and told her I had a problem.

“Advocate for yourself and never be ashamed to get a second opinion.”

She ordered an endoscopy, but the results were negative and didn’t show any obvious stomach problems. I insisted something was wrong, and told my doctor about my other symptoms—the fatigue, back pain and weight loss.

I also have a family history of cancer—my father had pancreatic cancer—and I asked what another option could be for figuring out what was going on. The doctor ordered a CT scan. That’s when the cancer was discovered.

You know yourself better than anyone. If something is wrong, talk to your doctor. Be specific and document your condition if possible. Even minor symptoms can identify a potential problem.

Keep asking questions until you clearly understand your situation. Confide in a family member or friend that will give you honest feedback and is looking out for your best interests. Advocate for yourself and never be ashamed to get a second opinion.


  • fatigue
  • rapid jump from pre-diabetic to diabetic
  • back pain
  • unexplained weight loss