Leon Hale

Leon Hale

Colon Cancer

Rapid City, SD


Leon Hale, known as Little Chief by his fellow Lakota people, was diagnosed with cancerous polyps that required surgical removal. The surgery was successful, but required Leon to use a colostomy bag for the rest of his life. Just a year and a half later, while still recovering from surgery, Leon underwent open heart surgery. This was both physically and mentally challenging for Leon. Being weakened by both surgeries, Leon lost the will to live.

Through faith and his grandson’s encouragement, Leon was motivated to fight. Leon’s new positive outlook gave him the strength to overcome his hardships and lives a healthy and active life today.

Living with Hardships

I went through that, and it was painful. I ended up wearing a colostomy pouch, and they said that it was bad enough to wear, that they can’t turn around and get rid of it, so I have to wear it the rest of my life. At that time, I felt bad for myself that this happened. It was a change in my life, to feel strange of what I have to go through. I felt so bad that I wanted to leave this world. It wasn’t too long, a year and a half or so after that, I had to have open heart surgery, where I ended up having to have open heart surgery, which made it even worse. I was feeling so bad, that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I felt like this isn’t… it’s time for me to leave. I was praying in that way. That’s when I asked the lord, and said, “I’m ready.”

Keep Moving

Everyday, my grandson would come home from school, and come to my trailer. That’s when he said, “Grandpa, you cannot lay here and let yourself go. You’ve gotta get up, let’s go for walks.” It started out like that, and that’s when he helped me. I said to him, “I didn’t know you wanted me to be here.” And he said, “Grandpa, I want you to be here.” So at that time, when we went for those little talks, I used to tell him, “Gee, I had a nice dream last night,” and I would tell him the story of my dreams, about how in my prayers, I would ask God to make me feel better and stronger. Everyday my grandson and I would go on longer walks, and I would tell him the stories about my dreams.

That was from being hurt from the cancer surgery, and the heart close together, you know, I was in really, really bad shape, but my grandson talked me into exercising, and he said, “You are a warrior Grandpa. I knew you could survive this, and I want you to watch me run too, and do exercise,” so he joined sports and stuff and rides bikes. And I felt good, and after that, I wanted to do everything he was doing. While I was riding my bike, I had that feeling that my grandson was telling the truth. We could stay strong, and be warriors, and survive anything that comes and hits us, like the cancer did. I just went through it, like I forgot about it, and I just kept going. Every time I see people exercising, it just makes me feel like wow. I feel it in my body and my heart, that I am with you guys and I am for you, that I know you can do it. I bet when you’re on the bike, you feel like you want to quit, you want to stop, you want to give up, but when you think of the good things, you keep going.