A Florida father with terminal brain cancer went viral online recently after he posted a plea for Tim McGraw to help make a lasting memory for his daughters. Michael Hugo, 37, suffers from stage 4 glioblastoma, a diagnosis he received in April 2022. Hugo’s daughters are still little girls, but he wants to make a video that they can play at their weddings one day in case he doesn’t make it.
“I know the statistics,” Hugo said of his cancer. “The statistics for glioblastoma are a median survival of 14 months; half the people are dead by 14 months. The five-year survival is four or five percent.”
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Hugo has lived an adventure-fueled life: he has skydived, earned his pilot license, scuba dived off the Great Barrier Reef, completed 11 Iron Man races, and run more than 100 marathons. He hopes his competitive nature and love for a challenge will pull him through this shocking diagnosis.
“If we are running on a treadmill in the gym and you’re next to me, we’re racing,” he said. “You may not know it, but we’re racing”
Michael and his wife, Vanessa, married over a decade ago, and have two little girls that are 6 and 7 years old. “They are just getting to that age now where their personality is really blossoming,” he said. “They are jokesters just like me.”
Hugo’s life changed last April when he had a seizure while driving his car and crashed. He woke up in the hospital with a broken back. It was the brain scans, however, that changed his life in an instant.
Tim McGraw’s own father passed away from the same type of brain cancer as Hugo
Ironically, Hugo actually works in neurological medical device sales, and his wife is a clinical research analyst, as well. They both knew the scans meant cancer, and within a week he went under the knife for tumor removal.
“It grew back right after the surgery, but it was still within the radiation field,” he explained. “So, between the radiation, the Optune and the different chemotherapies that I’m in, I have had stable scans. Some people can live years with stable scans.” (Optune is a cutting-edge medical device to treat glioblastoma that Hugo wears on his head to slow his cancer’s spread).
Just in case, however, Hugo is writing letters for his daughters to read on major milestones. His number one hope is that Tim McGraw will join him for a brief video that his girls can watch one day when they’re adults.
“His dad passed away from glioblastoma, and he wrote that song, ‘Live Like You Were Dying.’ It hits me hard,” Hugo reflected. He hoped Tim McGraw would see a video posted to social media, where he asked to sing a duet of “My Little Girl” together. And it appears that wish came true.