Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pablove Across America 2011 Day 20 Afternoon Dedication: Mark Kattus and David Ochowicz

Mark is now 22 years old and just had his 4 year anniversary of his diagnosis; he was diagnosed at the age of 18 on October 9, 2007 with stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma. He went through 6 months of ABVD Chemo and when chemo was completed, he had 5 weeks of radiation. He is doing absolutely great and is living a very healthy lifestyle. He's a senior at UCSD where he's majoring in Astro Physics and helping to run the Rock Climbing gym on campus. He spends all of his free time climbing with his girlfriend Lauren and on occasion, he'll take his little sister Venessa with him. Venessa is 14 and Mark is her hero; she loves climbing with him. This past summer he climbed the face of Half Dome in Yosemite; he started his climb at dawn and finished it at dusk...that's fast! He is also a surfer and cyclist and just genuinely loves the outdoors. In 2008 the state of WI changed their laws and allowed 16 year olds to donate blood. David signed up immediately. It was from that blood drive that he discovered he had MDS, a rare form of bone marrow cancer and his only treatment option was to have a life threatening bone marrow transplant. Out of 11 million people on the bone marrow registry not a single one was a match. His dad and sister were not matches, and his mom Mary was only a partial match. They decided to use Mary as the donor anyway -- she was his only shot. Her to-do list before the surgeries included her yearly mammogram. It was then she discovered she had breast cancer. Finally in 2009 a donor was found. But David's fight wasn't over. He would relapse multiple times and require many risky additional transplants. Finally, earlier this year his 39th bone marrow biopsy showed No Evidence of Disease. He is now 19, a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering. It will be awhile before he is considering in full remission, but he is on that road.

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