Mark Clifton is a loving husband and dad to two young children, 10 year-old Tabor and 8 year-old Marshall.
In the last 15 years, Mark has been battling various forms of cancer. In May of 1999, at the age of 25, Mark's doctors discovered he had testicular cancer. After surgery and grueling rounds of chemotherapy, Mark was optimistic he beat this curable form of cancer.
Two years later, in 2001, it was discovered that Mark had a mass in his chest (known as a teratoma) nestled between his heart and left lung. The placement of the tumor required very specialized surgeons to perform the procedure.
Fortunately, Mark was accepted as a patient by the same team of surgeons in Indiana that had helped cure Lance Armstrong. It was somewhat fitting since Mark is also from Austin. And like Lance Armstrong's surgery, Mark's was a complete success.
Mark and his wife, Nancy, were optimistic their fight against cancer was finally over. In 2004, they started a family and were blessed with a girl, Tabor, and a three years later, Marshall was born.
Sadly, in the spring of 2010, Mark’s cancer had returned. After consulting with Mark’s surgeons in Indiana, he underwent a second round of chemotherapy, and another surgery performed in Austin. Mark's optimism about his future never wavered and was ready to put his third bout with cancer behind him for good.
However, a year ago in the spring of 2013, Mark and his family received the upsetting news that Mark’s cancer had reared its ugly head once again. This time the tumor was wrapped around his aorta and affected his vocal cords and left lung.
The surgeons were brutally honest with Mark and Nancy about his current condition. Although the news deflated their optimism, Mark continued to believe that his surgeons in Indiana will get him through. Unfortunately, this surgery required the surgeons to remove Mark’s left lung, left vocal cord, and reconstruct his aorta with an artificial “patch."
Miraculously, Mark pulled through the complicated and life-threatening surgery. His surgeons were amazed and told him during recovery, “We now know that we can do all that we did to you and still have the patient survive!”
Unfortunately, less than two months after his surgery while recovering in his home in Austin, Mark’s aorta pushed through his esophagus causing a quick loss of blood. Both the aortic patch and chest cavity became infected and Mark underwent lifesaving, emergency procedures. He was placed on life support.
After Mark's condition stabilized over the period of 3 months, he was transferred to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. The special cardio vascular surgeons had been reviewing his case for weeks and devised a plan that included a series of several long, but hopefully lifesaving surgeries to perform on Mark. Unfortunately, during one of the 6 hour surgeries, Mark suffered a brain injury on the left side of his brain causing loss of movement in the right side of his body and severe speech challenges.
Mark is now home in Austin with his family where he goes to St. David’s Rehab brain injury day program 4 days a week for extensive rehabilitation. Currently, he is learning how to talk, walk, and is working to regain use of his right arm.
As a husband and dad, Mark's working hard to get healthy so he can provide for his family especially Tabor and Marshall. His wife, Nancy, has remained strong through the years and Mark finds his strength in her.
Throughout Mark's battle with cancer, he has maintained a positive attitude believing he is a victor not a victim.
We, at Iron Cactus, have started this online fundraiser to start a college fund for Tabor and Marshall. On June 5th, we will be hosting our annual charity golf tournament at Grey Rock Golf Club. Our hope is to raise $20,000 from the charity golf tournament and raise $10,000 here. ALL the funds raised will go to the college fund for Tabor and Marshall.
We hope you'll find inspiration in Mark's story and give generously so his children will have the security of receiving a college education. Thank you for supporting us!