A bumpy road to 100

Makinen, cancer-free for 50 years, shares secret to longevity

Editor's note: This story originally ran June 20, 2018

On June 15, 1918 the end of World War I was approaching. The University of Wyoming had just announced it would no longer be teaching German as a foreign language, following the lead of many other institutes of higher learning in the United States. The Austrians, at the behest of the Germans, began an offensive along the Piave River in Italy that they would not be able to hold. Also, on that day, Lyle Makinen was welcomed into the world.

Very few people live to be 100 years old. So few, in fact, that the United Nations estimated in 2012 that just over 300,000 people in the world were a century or more in age. Centenarians, as they are called, are a rare breed and Makinen recently joined those ranks and is more than qualified.

For Makinen, in the 10 decades that she has been alive, one of her most memorable moments was when she was told she was cancer free-over 50 years ago. Makinen not only fought breast cancer, she had a double masectomy before the cancer moved into her bowels. Even now, more than half a century after being told she was cancer free, the final diagnosis is still on her mind.

It would be an understatement to say that, over the past 100 years, Makinen had seen massive changes take place before her very eyes. A World War, the space race and countless other history defining moments took place during her lifetime. For Makinen, though, the seemingly simple changes that many of us take for granted are what she remembers.

"It used to take four days to go from Casper to Craig, Colo.," said Makinen recently, "and now you can go in just a few minutes."

For Makinen, watching the world change from horse-and-buggy to automobiles is something that has impressed her. Living to 100 is no small feat and there are people, no doubt, who would like to know her secret. For Makinen, it's short and simple:

"Just mind your own damn business."


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