It's been a dizzying two years for Michael Florio. In the span of just a few weeks, Florio, who had already retired from his teaching position at New Bedford High School back in 2018, decided to retire as an EMT.

It was within the first couple of weeks of the start of the pandemic, and he was getting grief from his daughter because she was concerned about him needlessly exposing himself to the unknown virus.

Retirement Followed by the Unimaginable

Michael was swayed by his daughter's argument. She was right. He'd worked hard enough. After a long, 34-year career as an educator for New Bedford Public Schools, and a 38-year career as a paramedic, he decided to stop working on March 23, 2020.

Just 17 days later, Florio got some devastating news. 

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"I started feeling sick," he said. "I had been losing weight, about a pound a day. My doctor found a tumor on the head of my pancreas that was later confirmed with an MRI."

Florio said he got some tremendous support from his wife and family. 

"Pancreatic cancer is not easily treated," he said. "The survival rate is not good, but I decided that I would do anything it took for me to stick around a little bit longer." 

Florio said he has cherished every day since.

Why Michael Florio Ran the New Bedford Half-Marathon

Florio said he had already run the New Bedford Half-Marathon before and he wanted to run it just one more time. 

"I refused to be identified by the cancer," he said.

Courtesy of Michael Florio
Courtesy of Michael Florio
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The Final Leg

During his appearance on Michael and Maddie Monday morning, Florio said he got so emotional at one point in the race that he found it hard to keep breathing. 

"When I rounded the corner at Kentucky Fried Chicken on County Street, I started thinking about the journey that I went on. I got choked up a little bit. Then, I saw one of the Mattapoisett police officers on his motorcycle. He and seven other officers gave me a police escort for the final leg of the race. My spirits lifted, and I knew I was going to make it through."

Florio finished the New Bedford Half-Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes and 22 seconds. 

"Yes, I planned it that way," he said. "I am now sitting on my couch recovering. Even my hair hurts."

Hear Michael Florio's Interview Here

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