Less than 24 hours after learning that he'd finally beaten cancer, lineman Tyler Manick was on the road from Old Fort, North Carolina, to Lake Charles, Louisiana. He bid farewell to his wife and child and hurried to join his crew, helping restore power to hundreds of thousands in the wake of hurricanes Laura and Delta.
On May 16, 2018, Manick was told he may only have six weeks to live. His wife, Chelsey, was eight months pregnant at the time. Manick had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and radical treatment was his only option.
The father-to-be threw himself into his treatment program, leaving the job he loved and eventually enduring 27 months of physical and mental hardship. Manick grew weak, lost weight, and desperately missed his work.
"I went out on disability when I was sick and I couldn’t work," Manick regaled, "but I just kept telling myself, 'If I could just get back in that bucket one more time, if I can just go down the road one more time.' I just wanted to get back to it."
Manick's workmates stood by him throughout his battle against leukemia, driving him to appointments and helping Chelsey with domestic chores. Incredibly, they even raised enough money to almost cover his health insurance deductible.
Gradually, Manick started to come through the other side.
On Aug. 21, the lineman had his last day of treatment, followed by a biopsy. On Oct. 8, Manick, Chelsey, and their now-2-year-old daughter, Samaira, received life-changing news: Manick was in remission.
Roughly 500 Duke Energy crew members joined forces with Entergy Louisiana after Hurricane Delta made landfall in southwest Louisiana. Upon reaching Lake Charles, Manick stepped straight back into his old routine, helping Entergy restore power to more than 300,000 people who have had to cope without it.
But rebuilding after a storm, said Manick, is the best part of being a lineman.
"It’s been my first time in this state and my first time seeing the Mississippi River," he explained. "I love Louisiana, and it seems like the farther south you get the nicer the people get. I’m happy to get the lights back on for them."
Life, the lineman reflected, is short. If he can give somebody hope with his story of overcoming cancer, then that's what he wants to do. In the meantime, Manick continues doing what he loves best with the people he loves most.
"It’s a brotherhood," he said. "When I was down on my luck, they were the first ones there to pick me up. It’s a family, and that’s just how it is when you’re a lineman."