AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado man with incurable lung cancer still manages to live life to the fullest.

It’s a testament to the advances that have been made in lung cancer treatment and to Matt Mikulich of Buena Vista, who doesn’t let cancer define him. The 73-year-old was a geophysicist for Chevron for 29 years. He’s an international lecturer and an educator.

In retirement, Mikulich dresses the part and, once a year, teaches freshman at Regis Jesuit High School all about mining in Colorado. It’s a mother lode of information, coming from a man with much more on his mind.

When he was 66, Mikulich was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread. He was told it is inoperable and incurable.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh talks with Matt Mikulich (credit: CBS)

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh talks with Matt Mikulich (credit: CBS)

“I just decided well, we’ll just go through the treatment see what happens”, Mikulich told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

He explained he had multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. He’s taken four experimental drugs.

Now, seven years later, he said, “I lead a very normal quality of life, very good quality of life. I do what I want to do.”

His doctor told Walsh, “You cannot tie this guy down.”

Oncologist Dr. Ross Camidge treats Mikulich at the University of Colorado Hospital.

Matt Mikulich teaching at Regis Jesuit High School (credit: CBS)

Matt Mikulich teaching at Regis Jesuit High School (credit: CBS)

“A lot of the advances in treating lung cancer have gone from turning it from a death sentence into much more of a life sentence by turning it into a long-term controllable disease,” said Camidge.

With changing treatment, Mikulich has stayed one step ahead of his cancer, and he’s thriving.

“I try to make every day matter,” he said.

He intends to keep teaching about gold and mining for the silver lining.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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