Mark's Story

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January 29, 2013


My story technically begins in the Spring of 2001 when I started having what I didn't know at the time were small seizures.

Upon seeing my regular doctor, he determined that it was probably just allergies or hay fever and that there was "nothing to worry about."

Fast forward to September 11th, 2001, where I was working down on Wall Street at the time (2 blocks from the World Trade Center), I had the misfortune of seeing the 2nd plane hit.

Immediately, I left my building and got into my car to head home to my wife and then 2 year old son.

My so called "claim to fame" from this tragic day is that I was the last car allowed to go over the George Washington Bridge and back into New Jersey.

In all, I lost over 3 dozen friends and colleagues from my prior career in the banking industry that were trapped in the World Trade Center.

On October 9th, 2001 (exactly 4 weeks later) on my way home from work, I had a blackout behind the wheel of my car. 

I amazed the police who arrived on the seen by walking away from the accident unscratched after basically totaling the car.

Upon hearing about the accident, I was taken by my wife to the hospital to find out what was really going on only to learn they had "found something on the CT-Scan on my brain that needed to be looked into further."

Just 8 days later I was operated on.

The surgery itself took 8 hours, 6 of which I was awake.

They kept me awake for those 6 hours due to the fact that I was ambidextrous, meaning I had language skills on both sides of my brain and they had to keep me awake to make sure that they did not dig to far when trying to remove all of the tumor, which in the end they could not remove all of.

After waiting several days for the results, I ultimately learned that I had a Grade 4 Glioblastoma.

My Oncologist at the time gave me LESS than a year to live.

From there, I went on to begin my required 6 weeks of radiation and everything was going fine until my personal "Pearl Harbor Day" of December 7, 2001 when I had a grand-mal seizure on the table.

It was only recently that I learned the whole story from that day, where I didn't just have 1 grand-mal seizure that day, but several, to the point where I slipped into a coma for several hours.

Upon completion of radiation on New Year's Eve, 2001, I shortly thereafter began what was to be 3 years of Chemotherapy (TEMODAR).

Of course, things weren't all smooth sailing as a little over a year into my Chemo, my Oncologist called me in to inform me that effective the NEXT day, he was closing his practice and moving out of state without so much as a recommendation for a new Oncologist to go to.

After much scrambling and assistance from my Radiologist, I managed to find a new Oncologist that I still currently see.

As I write this coming up on my 8 Year Anniversary, I am alive, well and for the most part have resumed my life as before.

I did recently go back on chemotherapy as a preventive measure from my doctor. I still go for MRI's every two months, and it is to the point now where I don't even have to visit my Oncologist to hear the results.

I get an email from her assistant that says very simply, "Looks Great."

My motto from Day 1 was "TREAT IT AND BEAT IT", a motto that should be looked at for any of life's problems, not just having cancer.

If not for the support for my wife, friends and family to remind me of those words, I know that I WOULD NOT be here today.

I have never been shy about sharing my story with those going through what I did, because if I can help just one person, then I have made a difference.

Another motto that I carry with me every day came from the movie, "Secret of my Success" where Michael J. Fox said, "LIFE IS HARSH AND UGLY AND ONLY THE STRONG WILL SURVIVE."