Six weeks ago, when I thought about the Shoppers Drug Mart OneWalk to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a one-day, 25-kilometre walk throughout Toronto taking place this Saturday, it had not even occurred to me that my husband Mark Reid wouldn't be waiting for us at the finish line. He was fighting so hard to conquer his very aggressive lymphoma and by all accounts it seemed he was at least in partial remission. We thought he would see us there, completing this tough trek at Cabana Pool Bar at Polson Pier, looking out onto Lake Ontario.
Imagine our shock, refusal to believe and then complete devastation, when we were told on July 31 that the cancer was too aggressive for even the most aggressive of current treatments -- that there is no cure for Mark's cancer. Mark died on Aug. 13 this year. I take some comfort knowing we were able to care for him at home. I also ache from feeling I should have been able to do more, give him more, help him more.
Mark was so proud that we had a team participating in OneWalk, called Team Cancer Crusaders. Each time I would tell him of another donation made on our behalf and in his honour, he was very pleasantly surprised. I don't think he ever realized the positive impact he had on people, simply by the way he treated others in his life. I don't think he ever realized what a rare gift he was to us all.
Mark cared about people. He was the most compassionate person I have ever met. He enjoyed life experiences in which he could help someone. In his work as a lawyer he chose to represent the "underdog" time and time again. If appropriate, he would share his own life experiences with clients in hopes it would be of some help. He did not judge others and he would remind us all that there was likely more to a person or a story than we knew -- that we should not judge. He enjoyed coaching kids in soccer and basketball and encouraging them to try their best and have fun. He was generous with his time, his stories, his knowledge, himself. As a husband and father he wanted the best for us. He was loving, encouraging and supported the kids and I in whatever goal we set out to achieve.
Mark had such a positive energy about him; he woke up in a good mood each morning, anxious to see what the day would bring. It felt good just to be in his presence. I am missing that so much.
Mark was always planning our next adventure. We loved a spontaneous night in Toronto, sitting on a patio, seeing a movie and more often than not ending up at a new or used bookstore late into the evening. Mark loved to travel and he particularly loved when our kids could travel with us. Mark made sure all of our kids were able to experience his favourite places to travel, Breckenridge, Colorado, Cancun and Europe. Our trips always included many laughs and we always enjoyed his stories and his knowledge of the current population and history of every place we went.
Mark lived life in perfect balance. He loved a Sunday spent on the couch, binge-watching Netflix, F1 races and basketball, to be followed by a week hard at work, during which he would take some time to Google his ideas for a getaway and leave a note on my desk suggesting we go for a bike ride and dinner after work.
Mark's cancer was discovered on March 9, 2015. Last Christmas, we did a big, crazy family road trip to South Carolina with our kids, their girlfriends and boyfriend and Mark's parents. We all played cards, walked on the beach, cooked and enjoyed meals together and Mark got to show me Charleston, which he said I would love and he was right. In February, we went to Breckenridge with our very good friends. Cancer was already attacking Mark and we didn't know it -- he was too busy sharing life with us.
Mark made the world a better place. At this very fragile time, I do know Mark would still be proud of our participation in OneWalk. We are going to honour him with each step on September 12. We have a fundraising goal of $18,000, dollars that will automatically be put to use at Princess Margaret, one of the top five cancer research centres in the world, changing the future of cancer for families across Canada.
On September 19, our friends have planned a memorial bike ride in Mark's honour and funds raised will go to a scholarship for a law student from Muskoka. We will never stop remembering him.
People say to me now that I just need to take it, "one day at a time." This is easier said than done, however, if I remind myself to live each day in such a way that will honour Mark, it helps. I can do that for him.
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