In May 2011, Robin and Mark were planning for their future by applying for life insurance. No worries ahead: Mark is an active person, training for a half iron-man. Robin is an active runner and triathlete too. No red flags in their minds to be approved by the insurance company. It was a real shock for both of them when the test results revealed that Mark had IGA nephropathy. He had absolutely no signs or symptoms of the disease!
Mark’s renal function started to decline rapidly, leading the couple to accept that Mark would have to go on dialysis in October of the same year. Five months down the road and their lives had completely shifted… Mark was on dialysis for 14 months. Family and friends were of great support to them, and several of them went to be tested to become donors. Three of them came back as matching donors: Mark’s mom and 2 friends.
This new chapter of their journey also transformed the life of Mark’s mother, who started an exercise regime to lose weight and get in shape for the surgery that would potentially save her son’s life. Sure enough, in November 2012, Mark and his mom went for the transplant. It was a success, and the recovery went well for both of them.
When Mark talks about these obstacles he and his wife had to surmount, he uses the words “silver lining.” First, they both agree that if they hadn’t applied for that insurance, the disease would have progressed, unnoticed, and Mark’s journey to transplant and recovery would have been totally different. Also, Mark’s mother has kept up her exercise regime since the surgery. This life-altering event for her son has also changed her way of perceiving the gift of life and health. Robin also has a very positive and inspiring outlook on those years. “Even though it was hard to see Mark in that condition, his calmness and acceptance really inspired me to stay strong and focus on getting through it one step at a time.”
This is what led the couple to the Alive to Strive Race. Robin joined the race committee in 2013 as a volunteer for media relations, and Mark brought a team of friends and walked the 5K with his teammates, The Avengers. Last year, they were dressed in superheroes’ costumes!
For this year’s edition, Mark and his teammates have already registered and will be dressed as the X-Men! Yes, you read it right… Mark is getting back in shape and can run longer distances. He is very happy and is looking forward to this amazing day of celebration on April 27th. The Alive to Strive Race is important to him and his wife.
When asked what they would like to leave as a final message to our readers, they both agree to what Robin shares with emotion: “Knowing that many people were supporting us, encouraging Mark to be active again was a really important part of recovery. For someone with kidney disease, it may seem insurmountable; you need to look at it a little bit at a time, acknowledging your efforts and being kind to yourself.”
Thank you Robin and Mark for sharing your amazing story, and your passion for an active life! We look forward to see you at Terry-Fox Athletic Facility on April 27th. Good luck to Mark and the X-Men!