For the first 29 years of his life, Mark Chrudimsky hardly had a care in the world. Then, on Valentine’s Day in 2004, he suffered a seizure that a CT scan later revealed had been caused by a tumor “the size of a fist” hidden on the left frontal lobe of his brain. Mark spent the next three months going from appointment to appointment while doctors in his home state of Wisconsin told him they wanted to take a “wait and see” approach to see if anything changed with the tumor. It wasn’t exactly the treatment plan Mark had been hoping for, so he decided to take matters into his own hands, making an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
“I didn’t think there was any hope,” Mark recently told KAAL-TV, after doctors at Mayo examined his tumor and found it had grown to the size of a soda can. But two weeks after Mark’s initial appointment, a Mayo surgical team was able to remove 95 percent of the tumor.
Surgery was followed by a lengthy period of rehab and recovery to regain his speech and ability to walk. Things had been going well until 2011, when Mark began getting “painful, chronic headaches.” Then it was back in the operating room for a second surgery, followed by a third in 2012, to try to get rid of the headaches. But as they operated on Mark, the surgical team noticed that what was left of his original tumor had grown again. So Mark moved from surgery to daily radiation treatments.
Through it all, Mark has (incredibly) kept his a positive outlook. His doctor, Nadia Laack, M.D., tells KAAL that while the daily radiation treatments have helped to keep Mark’s remaining tumor in check, it doesn’t change the fact that most patients like Mark “usually don’t survive for more than 15 years.” Even though he knows it’s a fight that he may never completely win, Mark tells KAAL he’s grateful to Dr. Laack and the rest of his care team at Mayo for giving him the hope, and opportunity, with each new day. “When I wake up every day I’m grateful,” he says. “I try to live each day to the fullest because I don’t know if this is going to take my life.” And he hopes his story will offer encouragement to others.
You can watch the video here, and keep up with Mark’s cancer journey on both his Caring Bridge site and his personal blog. Then, let us know what you think about this story by sharing your comments below.