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Mike’s Story

“I wish there were more Mike’s in the world,” says Steve Hinder – long-time friend of Mike Rathke, owner of MR Menswear and nearly 30-year resident of Aurora, Ontario.

It’s a sentiment that everyone who crosses paths with Mike can instantly agree with.

Mike has become a staple in the area, giving back to his community often, and sharing his powerful story of overcoming nearly fatal cancer at age 18 (followed by nine long years of recovery), which has inspired others to join and support him.

So in 2017 when Mike was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, the community that he had supported heard he was in need, and there was no question about coming together to support Mike.

“It was extremely upsetting for me, thinking, ‘Oh God, I have to go through all this again.’ Brutality is what it basically felt like,” says Mike.

But thankfully, Mike had an even more extensive support system to rely on this time – a network of friends and family that would rally around him.

For seven weeks, Mike would meet a friend who would drive him to his treatment (which took place outside of the community). Sometimes, treatments left him so exhausted that he’d need help to get down the stairs and would lie in the backseat the whole trip. Despite his pain and discomfort, Mike would apologize to his friends for the inconvenience.

“He never complained. Not one day,” says Steve Hinder, Co-Chair of Southlake Foundation’s Philanthropy Cabinet. “He’s a pretty inspiring guy.”

Mike was already a supporter of Southlake and the long journeys downtown for cancer treatment solidified for him and his friends the vital importance of access to advanced cancer care in their community.

“Everyone has dealt with a family member or friend who has battled cancer,” says Mike. “The community came through for me several times, so it’s essential we come together to support our hospital so that others like me can receive outstanding care.”

Since 2007, Mike has been supporting Southlake through MR Menswear, including a long-running fashion show, Whiskey, Wine & MR Menswear. Mike’s support and thoughtful contributions from many other donors, leaders, and community members have enabled Southlake to deliver on critical components of our HERE is Where Cancer Meets it Match campaign to provide faster and improved care to cancer patients. His last fashion show raised over $75,000 for the Campaign.

“We’re seeing major improvements in the Cancer Centre with new equipment so that we can look after future patients too,” said Mike.  His remarkable journey, and story of giving back has inspired so many others to give, making a tangible impact for others depending on Southlake for life-saving care.


Join us in supporting community members like Mike and the thousands of others who receive cancer diagnosis and treatment at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre by donating to our HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match Campaign.

Visit www.southlake.ca/here for more information.