The sky is the limit
After complaining of stomach aches, Mark's parents took him to the emergency room where tests and surgery followed. It was then, October 2015, that Mark learned he had cancer. Two days later, he began an aggressive chemotherapy treatment protocol for Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that starts in the immune cells.
“It is every parent’s worst nightmare to learn their child has cancer,” Gwendolyn, Mark’s mother, shares. “There is a whirlwind of emotions you go through the strongest of which is the drive to battle this disease”.
Months later, in February 2016, Mark returned to school to complete the eighth grade with his classmates. Even after missing so many days in the classroom and enduring days spent at the hospital for treatment, Mark stayed the course.
He finished the year with all A’s and continued this feat during his ninth grade year -- earning all A’s for every marking period! Mark gives thanks to his teachers and tutors for the help they provided at the hospital while he was undergoing treatment.
Mark has always loved science and technology and his goal remains unchanged despite his cancer diagnosis and treatment: to attend the USAFA to study aeronautical engineering. He would like to fly F-35 Lightening II Planes as well as design future planes and spacecraft.
“I have loved planes and flying for as long as I can remember,” Mark says. “I took every toy plane and model apart to reengineer and streamline the design to see if I could get them to fly faster and further!”
Mark will be one step closer to his dream as he takes off this summer for NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. Like most 15 year old teens, Mark is ready to step behind the wheel... his "wheel" just happens to be in the cockpit and he'll get that chance with NASA’s flight simulators.
Mark shows us that a cancer diagnosis does not mean the end of your dreams. His courageous determination to achieve his goals remains intact and we can tell that he's ready to launch into a bright future! It's also what has made him such a great inspiration as a 2016 ASK Kourageous Kid.