The road to recovery
Having been in the enviable position of working with so many great artists worldwide as a professional drummer, Mark worried his diagnosis would signal the end of his livelihood.
The physical act of drumming is one which requires the feet as well as two hands, so having internal kidney stents and a colostomy to deal with can cause problems.
“I have been getting back to work slowly,” he explains.
“Having been a musician for 37 years it’s difficult to learn to say no to things, but I have to listen to my body. Whenever I was invited to work, I’ve had to make them aware that they needed to have someone on standby just in case I have to pull out at the last minute, in case my kidneys flared up for instance. Nowadays, I’m hoping this won’t be necessary”.
He added: “I do rely on the kindness of fellow musicians and stage crew to carry my gear as the stoma means I am more prone to having a hernia.”
But despite the challenges of his treatment, Mark hasn’t let it stop him.
“I still need to make a living and to think where I was in 2019 when I had the bulk of my treatment, surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, I live moment by moment and I feel so much better and more vibrant as a result.
“I know that if I had gone through this in the 1980s the treatment just wouldn’t have been that advanced.
“I am so grateful to all the research that has been developed and the people working to make it happen so I can make more memories and carry on with what I love to do.”
A moment to remember
That moment on stage with Jocelyn Brown may not have happened in 2018, but a few years later, thanks to his treatment, Mark made a memory that will stay with him for years to come.
“I remember showing up at the Jazz Café in London after all my treatment and her son was standing side stage, he stepped out to point me out to Jocelyn in between songs.
“He pointed at me, and she looked over and started crying as she knew how close I came to nearly not making it. The audience were mystified as to why she started crying, then she explained my story. She didn’t have to do that. It was touching… she’s a sweetheart
“I have so many people to thank for being here and I am grateful that I’ve had a chance to share my story.
“It is still bizarre to think I have a stoma, though I’ve accepted it as part of me and the progress that has been made in cancer treatments mean there are kinder treatments now than there were back in the days when I first started out in making and playing music.”
“My five-year anniversary from diagnosis is on 1st October, and I feel I have a lot to be thankful for.”