After he was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 24, Mike Grover charged ahead with work and with life.
He married his fiancee, Lea, before 200 people in a rooftop ceremony at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago’s Little Italy. He fit in a New Zealand honeymoon between rounds of chemotherapy.
He went back to work as a structural engineer.
He had three daughters: twins Sophia and Deborah, now 11, and Rivka, age 8.
“He never wanted his life to be defined by cancer,” said Lea, who chronicled his 13-year battle with glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, on her blog, Becoming SuperMommy.
“He wanted to be defined by the things in his life that he cared about and that mattered.”
For Mike Grover, who died Sunday at his home in Cary, Illinois, at age 38, those things were his family, his part in creating beautiful buildings, and his many, many friends. He was initially expect to live 12 to 18 months. Only seven in 1,000 people with glioblastoma survive for more than 10 years, according to a 2018 study. But Mike beat the odds again and again, and did so with a spirit that endeared him to friends and strangers.
“The specter (of cancer) was always there, but he just picked himself up, and led his life, and put so much love back into the world,” said Alison Norman, 37, of Woodbury, Minnesota, a friend since preschool.
Followers of Lea Grover’s blog, which is part cancer memoir, part love story, know him as a fiercely devoted father and husband.
“The love that he had for Lea, the way that they worked together as a team, was just incredible. The two of them working together was like this unstoppable force,” said Adam Moses, 37, of Austin, Texas, who was the best man at Mike and Lea’s wedding.