One year ago today, as I do every year on September 1st, I called and wished Mark Herzlich a happy birthday. He picked up on the first ring and we had an upbeat conversation full of inspiration and congratulations on another year past. Mark was determined as ever and was convinced that he would beat the cancer that kept him out for that upcoming season. We joked about which hat he would make signature throughout the chemo process and I urged him to stay away from the Colin Farrell knit cap. Which I’m happy to say he did. We left the call with our now ever present “Stay Up!”, and he rushed off as he needed to get back to the practice that he was now coaching.

But this year was a little different.

My mind raced as I flipped through my recent calls list and tracked down the alias that I’ve chosen for Mark on my phone, a childhood joke that no one would remember but us. As the number dialed and began ringing I thought back to what a year it’s been for Mark and his family. Not only has he beaten cancer but he has helped raise over a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research and has touched so many lives with his story. He has received awards. He has hosted golf tournaments. He has intercepted Tom Brady passes. He has even thrown out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. The phone continues to ring.

Recently Mark’s return to practice has been delayed by a broken foot which had skeptics contemplating his return. But Mark returned to practice this week in full pads and looks more ready to go than ever. The phone stops ringing but before I can start to sing the happy birthday song a woman’s voice on the other end warns me that “The mailbox associated with this number is full.” Well…

Mark, Happy Birthday! Stay Up! And I’ll see you on September 4th at Alumni Stadium. On the field. Hitting people.

Go Eagles!


Karolyn W. Givens
Posted on 4th September, 2010

To Mark and His Parents,
I read your story online this evening after seeing footage of your comeback game today. I too am a Ewing Sarcoma survivor, by 55 years! I’m not an athlete by any means, but at 68, I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do…became a nurse (my first practice was at the University of Michgan where I was treated)and went on to become a nurse educator with a doctorate. I have a healthy family with children and grandchildren, am a hiker, gardner…really I’ve done anything I’ve wanted to do.

So keep going for it! If there is any silver lining in dealing with cancer, it has to be that you appreciate each and every day. It definitely changes one’s perspective on life…I take nothing for granted.

Also, hug your parents up tight; in hind sight, it was probably harder for my parents to deal with it than it was for me. At 14, typical of being young, I was invinceable, and never had any question about getting well again.

Have a great football season! And congratulations on such a fast comeback…you’ve had to have worked mighty hard. Amazing!


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