A pensive young man in a white shirt sits in a New York City barbershop
"Imagine a world where cancer doesn't exist."Image by: Tristan Oliveira
A pensive young man in a white shirt sits in a New York City barbershop
1 November 2023

Mark’s story: Crossing the New York City Marathon finish line with Movember

4 minutes read time

It all started at a bar in New York…

I first became involved with Movember back in 2011 when my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I learned about it while I was at a bar, as one of my college friends was bartending. Naturally, being a college student, if a friend is bartending, you go for the drinks.

Earlier that week I had found out about my dad. She and I were talking and she had said, “Hey, there's this charity that is really big on men's prostate and testicular cancer, it’s called Movember, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but might be worth checking out.”

I went home that night, did all my research, and reached out the next day. This brotherhood felt like it was for people who were going through exactly what I was going through. When I first was learning how to try and deal with what was going on, they were there. And I quickly realized, that no matter what time of year it was, or no matter how much it was impacting my life, I wanted to make sure that I was able to get involved and give back where I could.

The first marathon I ran for Movember

Now, I need to go back about 11 years. My father’s diagnosed with prostate cancer. He fights it -- does it pretty much without letting anything impact him -- and he goes into remission. In winter of 2012, Hurricane Sandy hits, and it’s the first time in 40 years that the New York City Marathon doesn’t go on as planned.

I was living in London at this time, watching what was going on where I was born and raised. And like most athletic kids who grew up in the city, I had dreams of running the NYC Marathon. So, when I saw that it had gotten cancelled, I said to one of my good friends, “If we are both back in New York City next year, we need to run the Marathon together. It’s going to be unbelievable.” Spring of 2013, I’m now living in Bangkok, and unfortunately my dad falls out of remission and has to fight a second time. I thought, “I’m going to reach out to Movember.”

I reach out, and lo and behold, Movember has their first marathon team that year. It was an amazing way for me to come back to New York and run the marathon in support of my dad.

Crossing that finish line for my dad

I convinced Movember to grant me one of the 4 spots that first year. I think I ended up raising $5000+ before the race even happened. It was an incredible experience. My parents came to the city for the race – and I got them tickets for the grandstand, so they were able to see me cross the finish line. Once I met them in the family center, we all exchanged hugs and high fives and I looked at my dad and said “You need to stop getting diagnosed with prostate cancer – I am not running another one of these for you!”

Fast forward 10 years later and I’ve done all 6 of the world’s major marathons and am days away from toeing the start line for my 7th! Three of them were with Movember, and 3 were with other cancer foundations, thankfully my dad was able to watch me for the first three. And unfortunately, he watched from somewhere else in the universe for the last three. Earlier in the year, it hit me that this coming Movember would be the 10-year anniversary of running my first marathon and Movember’s first marathon team, so figured what a great way to jump back into it. It truly is a great way to help raise awareness for Movember, and ensure people know that there’s somewhere for them to turn.

What keeps me coming back each Movember

Both my father and my grandfathers on both sides were diagnosed with prostate cancer. I’ve come to terms in a lot of ways that prostate cancer will likely be a reality in my life too. But with organizations like Movember and the advances in research, technology, and treatment, it’s getting better each year. Movember allows me to see that I’m not alone – there’s a brotherhood and sisterhood behind it that are there to support. You always can talk to someone - even in non-moustache growing months. I keep coming back, because it’s important to me that people always feel they have a place to turn to get the support they need when they too are going through a tough time.

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