MARK RIZZO: In Reflection of a Bona Fide Cancer Warrior
WunderGlo Legacy Warriors
Mark Rizzo was a bona fide Warrior. He was a wonderful man, husband, father, friend, son, brother, uncle, and co-worker who was incredibly wise and patient. Lovingly referred to as “The Rizzo” by his many friends and those who were closest to him, Mark lived each and every day with kindness and in truth. More than anything in this world, Mark loved his three girls: his lovely wife Serena, and his beautiful and precocious daughters, Riley and Julia. He knew that his life was blessed and he always showed gratitude for his many, many gifts.
Mark began noticing symptoms when he was 40 years old. The family had just returned from the first of two planned vacations and although Mark had been experiencing GI symptoms for some time, they were believed to be related to a benign condition. At that time, his physician suggested to add more fiber to his diet. After six more months of continued problems, he was referred to a GI doctor and a diagnostic colonoscopy was scheduled immediately. Serena was simply scheduled to pick up her husband after his procedure when she got the call from him saying that “they had found something”. After an agonizing week of waiting for the pathology report, their worst fears were confirmed: Mark, at the age of 41, had colon cancer. Surgery was quickly scheduled to remove the tumor, yet the cancer which had spread to the peritoneum had delivered a Stage IV diagnosis. Suddenly, in the summer of 2012, their future together was being considered in terms of months instead of decades.
“Mark was calm , but I cried for three days, especially every time I looked at our girls, who were only 7 and 3 at the time. I read everything I possibly could about treatment and surgery. That led me to Gloria Borges through a critical article written on HIPEC. She was on the top list of comments defending the procedure as a chance for people that have been given such a diagnosis. Mark was so strong, stoic, and always faithful throughout his journey. He went through three major surgeries, including HIPEC (nicknamed the mother of all surgeries), over 40 chemo treatments , and many hospitalizations. His last year, he went through so much, but he loved life and our family. We continue this fight in his honor as he believed in all that the WunderGlo Foundation is working for. It will be a great day when a Stage IV diagnosis doesn’t have a 5% survival rate at 5 years. We want this day to come so that no one else has to lose a spouse/partner/child to colon cancer. The Wunder Project offers a tremendous opportunity to participate in the fight against this disease. The Rizzo family is grateful to be able to contribute to that effort and share in its hope, and to again feel optimistic about the future.
“Cancer, your time is up. We are coming for you.” – Serena Rizzo
Mark was a loving, devoted, and faith-filled family man who graced our lives with nothing short of perfection. Mark passed away September 10, 2014. A true WunderGlo Legacy Warrior.
Make a Donation to Finding the Cure in Memory of Mark Rizzo