"Mark the Shark" was a beautiful and happy 3rd grader, playing basketball, swimming, skateboarding, and was becoming an avid golfer along with his Dad and sister. In early spring of 2009, Mark began complaining of leg cramps at night. In April 2009, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma*. He endured 15 rounds of chemotherapy at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Jersey, and had a successful limb salvage surgery, performed by Dr. John Dormans at CHOP. With just a few more treatments to go, doctors discovered nodules in Mark's lungs—the cancer had metastasized. He had a thoracotomy to remove the lung tumors. In November, a different therapy was attempted, and then in December, Mark was enrolled in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering for a drug that is believed to prevent future metastasis. March, 2010, after a second thoracotomy, performed by Dr. Michael LaQuaglia at Memorial Sloan Kettering, it was determined that the current therapy was not working. Mark had this third thoracotomy the last week in March. He then started another clinical trial for IGF-1R, an antibody inhibitor, a different approach to try to come to a cure. In May of 2010, the tumors in Mark's lungs were deemed inoperable, and two weeks later, scans revealed that the tumors had grown and multiplied to the point that they were no longer treatable. Mark was placed on hospice care the second week of May. Mark and his family spent their remaining time together at home treasuring every moment, until nine-year-old Mark passed on May 30, 2010, in his mother's arms. Mark was a person of character and integrity. He was strong yet gentle, honest and forgiving. He followed his heart and did more good and beautiful things in this world in his short nine years than most people accomplish in a lifetime.
*Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone tumor that begins in immature bone cells that do not develop into normal bone cells. It is the most common form of pediatric bone cancer, and is typically found in the leg bones, (primarily around the knee), but can be found in arm, shoulder, or other bones, and on rare occasion, outside the bone. There is no known cure for recurrence.