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Jan. 6, 2023

A Story of Hope and Healing by Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly, a 30-year cancer survivor, shares his story of courage and resilience as he details his journey of fighting a rare and terminal cancer.

Note: This is an Encore Episode.

Mark Kelly, a 30-year cancer survivor, shares his story of courage and resilience as he details his journey of fighting a rare and terminal cancer.

"I am a coward, basically. I didn't want to go through any of this. If I knew what was going to happen, I would have signed no way. But I didn't. So you don't get into that a couple of times."

Mark Kelly is a 30-year cancer survivor and retired ESPN researcher. He is the author of My Scars Tell A Story and has produced and hosted over 130 podcasts.

Mark Kelly was 15 years old when he first noticed a bump on his rear. Despite thinking it was a hemorrhoid, the bump continued to get bigger and bigger, and he started to feel more and more tired. After going to the hospital and having surgery, it was discovered he had rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Mark was given chemotherapy, and it was successful in shrinking the tumor. However, he almost died from the flu during the second treatment. Eventually, he was cured of cancer, and his doctor told him if he made it, he would be able to play sports again. Mark felt like God had answered his prayers to be healed.

In this episode, you will learn the following:
1. What it was like for Mark Kelly to be diagnosed with cancer at a young age.
2. The difficulties and challenges Mark faced during his cancer journey.
3. The success of Mark's treatment protocol.

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It started in September 1990 when I noticed a bump on my rear. Actually, I thought it was a hemorrhoid, and I just started taking medication at the time because I had severe acne when I was younger.

My mom and dad always kind of cared about and noticed how I was feeling and everything, but it wasn't something that came up. You don't want either of your parents staring at your butt. 

They diagnosed me with an abscess, and they said they had a really good surgeon there. 

But that was just the beginning. And then on December 12, which was two days after I had the surgery, they came back and said, this is what it is. And they didn't tell me at the time that it was a rare terminal cancer, but that's what they told my parents.

I didn't know anything about cancer other than old people got it. I didn't know anything about chemo. 

Their doctors looked at it, and they said, well, you guys misdiagnosed him. It's not terminal cancer. It's a rare form of cancer.

When the thing that gave me hope was the first chemo treatment I had, my tumor shrunk by about 75%. 

I said, what are we doing here? And I told my parents, and they didn't really know what to believe or what to think. They don't want me to suffer.
It was devastating. And I thought I was going to die, I really did. And they decided to give me an extra week off after that because it was so traumatic for me. 

I had four weeks of radiation. That's really what did most of my damage because that did a lot of damage to my intestines. And you don't know the damage radiation is doing to you until later. 

I guess my best moment was understanding the love God has for me as a person. At times like now, going through something similar now where you feel like there's just no hope or you feel like there's so much that you're fighting that it's hard to see the end. 

What in the world is happening? But there's a point to all this you just don't know yet. You just pray that you'll be able to keep the perspective and understand that things get better or you just can't quit. And that's the big thing. You can't give up.

I do believe that knowledge for most people, when you're going through something, you need to have the ability to know what you're up against, how it's going to affect you, and how it's going to affect your body. 

I would make drugs legal, all drugs. The war on drugs, I think, is something that has wasted so much money and has made millionaires of so many people that it shouldn't have.

Alcohol. And they made it illegal. It was just chaos. There was a point why they came back, and they ended prohibition. Heroin and cocaine, those drugs, I do believe, need to be monitored, and I don't think that people should have access to them.

And I know plenty of people that disagree with me, like really disagree with me. They think I'm crazy. I have a problem with somebody doing drugs and going out and driving. Absolutely. 

Thriver Rapid Fire Questions

Aside from Cancer U, what is one resource that you would recommend for cancer patients? 

Survivors, that's a great word because you really are surviving. Sometimes you do need to find a way, or you need more help because you're not able to do these things yourself. 
Mark KellyProfile Photo

Mark Kelly

Young Adult Cancer Survivor

Mark Kelly is a 30-year cancer survivor. Mark attended Gordon College and was hired by ESPN as a researcher. During his 10-year career, Mark won two Emmy Awards. In 2008, Mark retired from ESPN due to the side effects of his cancer treatment. Mark established CKMagicSports, where he has produced and hosted over 130 podcasts. In 2019, Mark’s memoir about his cancer journey My Scars Tell A Story was published.