November 27, 2017

Mark Joseph Richardson 1960-2017

A CELEBRATION OF MARK'S LIFE WAS HELD ON OCT 14, 2017 -Also Mark's Memorial fund 

Approximately 70 people attended the celebration of life including Alan his best friend from Alaska who had often been in on some of Mark's adventures and Austin neighbors friends and former co-workers. He didn't die from cancer although he had experienced stage IV cancer of the esophagus at the gastric junction with metastasis to the liver. He had a second unrelated renal cell cancer removed from one kidney. He died following a fall on his marble floor in Thailand. He came to Houston to have surgery on June 29th this year for a burst fracture of his L-1 vertebrae.  He died August 10 of Staph Aureus Septicemia. 
There is a memorial fund to honor Mark. The fund will pay for bookcases being built in a school in Reynosa, Mexico. The school had no books for borrowing by the children. Mark's mother and people recruited by her, bought as well as collected numerous boxes of children's books in Spanish and English and arranged for them to be delivered to the school. Since there was no room for a library or money for a librarian, bookcases are being built in each classroom. Mark was an avid reader and had a wonderful memory for what he had read over the years. He would love this project. If you want to donate to this fund please make your check out to Rotary Club of Austin University Foundation and address your envelope to Rotary Club of Austin University FoundationC/O Ron Lantz Treasurer, 9517 Ketona Cove, Austin 78759    

August 14, 2017

Mark's Cancer-battle ended this week, 

... Mark died peacefully and unexpectedly in the presence of family this week, at home in Austin, Texas. He had fought Stage IV esophageal cancer and kicked its butt for more than 12 years, and had fought a second battle against a non-related cancer and totally kicked that one to the curb. Mark had initially, in 2005, been given a prognosis of "you'll be lucky if you live 3 more months", yet not only lived 12 more years but continued to squeeze as much living into those years as possible.

During his battle, as you can read on this blog, he lived in Thailand part of every year and travelled the world, getting every bit out of life that he was able. Each year Mom and Mark would take their "Glad to be Alive" trip; among the destinations were Vietnam, The Netherlands, Cuba, and Cambodia. Mark spent time visiting the small islands of Thailand with his sister and mother, enjoying the chance to show them some of his favorite places from his younger years, when he would ski and SCUBA dive. 

Mark's death was likely not directly a result of his cancer, though the long fight with this had left Mark with battle scars. In July, Mark fell quite hard at his home in Thailand and, after consulting with the hospital in Thailand, flew home to Texas (to Mom and) to have surgery in Houston for a burst vertebrae. The back surgery was successful, but it took a toll on Mark's health and vitality. He was feeling better post-surgery, and then died suddenly.

Mark's obituary can be found online at Mark Richardson Obituary -please leave a condolence. Mom would love to hear from everyone, so please feel free to just say "hi" or leave a note.

We, his family, and his friends are devastated. But Mark prepared us for this many years ago, when he was at his sickest: 

          "I'm fortunate, actually. People die unexpectedly all the time, step out and get hit by a bus on the way to work or whatever. I know I have very little time, and that it's coming. I get to say goodbye, and live a little more." 

I (this is Stephanie, Mark's sister) would ask that you hug your family a little closer and longer today. Tell them you love them. Call someone you haven't spoken to for a while and let them know you are thinking of them. We all will go, eventually, but for now we get to say what we need to say to them, and we get to live a little more.

January 07, 2017

Oops It's this year that is the 12 year anniversary of prognosis of 3 months or less to live

Mark Richardson is still alive and he claims he is doing ok. His diagnosis and prognosis were in Jan.-Feb 2005 so in last year's post when I said he had 12 and 1/2 years out from prognosis of 3 months or less to live, I had miscounted.  Mark is still living in Thailand just a very short walk on a private walkway to the beach.
We had been doing annual thank-God I'm alive trips in January each year with the last two to Cuba and to Vietnam. This year I couldn't go in January due to my own medical treatments so I planned a trip to India in the spring. Mark has no interest in India and wants his delayed Thank God I'm alive trip to be to Bali. He has been before but I have not. Hopefully we will get a delayed trip to Bali.

I looked at old blogs and Mark's formerly thick dark blond hair turned white and thin in the first 3 months of treatment. I see it in pictures of when we went to Amsterdam. Some of you may recall Mark was depressed and when I asked him about it he said he was sad that he would die and never get to travel. I asked him where he would like to go and he said Amsterdam. He was very sick and had no appetite. I wasn't sure he would survive the trip but a few visits to the coffee shops (for special smokes found in such shops) he was able to go to museums and out to eat and he had an appetite.  Mark's hair after chemo was finally finished turned from white to a dark gray and is once again thick.

Mark not only survived this cancer of the esophagus with metastasis to liver and bone but a separate unrelated kidney cancer that was small and slow growing and cored out at the VA in Houston several years after he was treated with a lot of chemo and radiation in Bangkok in 2005 and 2006 for his esophageal tumor with mets to liver and bone..

There are so many variables in cancers which affect who will live and who will not. No one's cancer is exactly like Mark's and there are so many different  treatment options now that we didn't have in 2005.  At that time people with stage 4 like Mark's often did not get treatment. In fact initially he was told here is some liquid morphine, go and get your affairs in order, you will die soon.  He couldn't find a doctor in Hawaii or the Philapines to treat him. He was a dead man walking...barely walking. Remember he was working on the island of Saipan when diagnosed. A call to MD. Anderson was made. They could get around to evaluating him in a month which would have been six weeks into his poor prognosis and he probably could not have handled the flights from Saipan to Guam to Japan to California to Houston to Austin and later back by car to Houston  He decided on his own to go to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok which was much closer to Saipan than Houston. Treatment began as soon as he presented himself to the Horizon Cancer Center at Bumrungrad.  He got lots of chemo and lots of radiation.   The fact he is living is mostly due to Bumrungrad Hospital and Dr. Thera Umsawadee as both were willing to treat a man with stage 4 cancer.

So many decisions and so many variables but Mark gave it his best attitude and took all the treatments without complaining. He took strength in the prayers and letters and pictures and poems and kool aid and licorice people sent him.

I write this blog to help people gather strength to deal with the treatments for cancer and to give it their all just in case the treatments work and survival and remission or cancer free is the result. Some people decide they would rather die than go through the treatments. We're all different and make decisions differently based on our own unique needs and wants.

Myself, I want to live to be 100 and have a lot of candles to blow out and get a letter or a tweet from the president at the time. It's a challenge. I've just come thru chemo and radiation for breast cancer and my hair is short, curly and white.  We just had a 97 year old Aunt die from infection in her leg. She was given the option to have her leg amputated or die of the infection. She said she's die rather than undergo a leg amputation. We're all different. I can't say that enough. It's very true.