Leukaemia Foundation Ambassador Profile
Run to support local blood cancer survivors like Mark
When Mackay local and father of four, Mark Rainsford, takes part in this year’s Mackay Marina Run, it will signify a celebration of his survivorship and a milestone in his recovery from blood cancer.
Mark had been feeling very lethargic and unwell for a number of months. As someone who enjoyed regular exercise, this was out of the ordinary. Night sweats and huge weight loss saw him checking into hospital for tests. “I was so weak…I was skin and bone”.
On his 50th birthday, Mark finally received some news after months of tests. “It’s cancer”. You need to pack your bags and go immediately to Townsville. I knew that something was wrong, but the last thing I expected for my 50th birthday was a cancer diagnosis.”
Mark faced three months of chemo in Townsville to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The relocation from Mackay to Townsville meant Mark faced the immediate challenge of finding a place to stay.
That’s where the Leukaemia Foundation stepped in, finding Mark a comfortable place to stay free of charge while he underwent the fight for his life.
“The Leukaemia Foundation were amazing. I had no support person in my life at that time and the Foundation paid for my accommodation and supported me through my experience. They even provided my sister and my kid’s a place to stay when they came up.”
“Thanks to them, I knew I wasn’t alone. They gave me lots of information and visited me in hospital.”
“It was the little things too, like inviting me to a Christmas lunch, so I wouldn’t be alone during that time.”
After his treatment, Mark went home and worked on regaining his fitness and strength on his bike. “I’m really passionate about exercise to help get through and recover from cancer treatment – I’m always recommending exercise to others going through a similar thing.”
Unfortunately a PET scan on April fool’s day showed he had relapsed. He had to return to Townsville for more chemo followed by a stem cell transplant. “I got the flu on day 1 of the transplant with no immune system. It was really tough.”
Six months after he returned home from the transplant, Mark was playing soccer again, something doctors thought he wouldn’t be doing so quickly after treatment. Building up his fitness was once again very important to him. “Even after a chemo session, I’d be looking forward to getting on my skateboard or bike. Other patients thought I was joking”.
Last year Mark cycled across the Nullarbor solo, fundraising and raising awareness of the Foundation. Mark is now training in preparation for the Mackay Twilight Run this month, which is the lead-up event to the Mackay Marina Run in June. Mark is the official Leukaemia Foundation ambassador for these events.
“Over the years I have taken part in the Run because of a reason, like supporting my kids or doing it with a team. This year, I’m hoping I’ll be someone else’s reason to take part, inspiring them to fundraise to help others going through what I did.”
“It was a really hard time in my life, being a dad of four kids and facing cancer. I simply wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Leukaemia Foundation.”
“I’m putting the call out to entrants to fundraise for this great cause. It’s a good chance to enjoy a great run and also make a difference to the lives of others.”
Join Mark at this year’s Mackay Marina Run as he runs to support locals like him impacted by blood cancer. Go to the Fundraising page and set up your online Leukaemia Foundation fundraising page now to help beat blood cancer.
About the Leukaemia Foundation
The Leukaemia Foundation the only national charity dedicated to improving the lives of patients with all types of blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. We want more people to survive a blood cancer diagnosis and go on to live a full life. We are committed to investing in research projects which focus on improving patient outcomes and providing free support programs which aim to reduce the emotional impact of a blood cancer diagnosis. For more information please visit www.leukaemia.org.au or visit Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.