Mark and Mary Wise
The Wise Family began their involvement with Shands on Thanksgiving Day 1992 when Mary and the volleyball team visited Shands Children’s Hospital. However, one Wednesday during a vacation Mark and his family became more involved with Shands than they could have ever imagined. On June 12, 2007, Mark and Mary Wise learned exactly how big a part of their lives Shands would become. Mark was diagnosed with tonsil cancer.
Almost immediately, they began aggressive treatments with radiation twice a day for six weeks and chemotherapy once a week for seven weeks. Even when treatment concluded, the long and difficult healing process left Mark with a feeding tube after losing 30 pounds, fighting off cancer sores, nausea and without half his goatee.
For three months, Mark was confined to the living room chair while Mary, their friends and neighbors, were by his side. Even when Mary and the volleyball team had to travel, the same community who helped raise their two boys, continued to help Mark heal. They gathered together to mow the lawn, pick up medicine and deliver food. Their Shands community paid attention to detail, explained the procedures, and helped make the daily grind feasible.
Even after the initial treatments, the fight was persistent. One final surgery, a neck dissection, would indicate to the Wises if the cancer cells were alive. The report came to Mary’s cell phone as she was about to address her team before a match. No live cancer cells were found. This was means for celebration. However, the Wise family chose to enjoy more of the small celebrations that took place in their fight against cancer, like the day Mark’s feeding tube was removed or when their youngest son made the basketball team.
Now, there are scans every three months and even more blood tests, but the statistics are on their side and it is time to give back. As honorary chairs for the community fundraising campaign for the Shands Cancer Hospital at UF, it is time to rally, put the coaching blinders on and provide hope to those, just like Mark, who are in for their toughest fight.