When KSNT News Morning Show Director Mark Feuerborn was a senior in high school, he had appendicitis. But it was his doctor’s discovery later on that was devastating and unexpected.
“They removed his appendix and [we] thought everything was good. [But] he kept having reoccurring pain and symptoms,” said Dr. Gregory Crane, Feuerborn’s oncologist at the University of Kansas Cancer Center.
After surgery to remove a growth on his stomach, he learned he had stage four appendix cancer.
“I wake up from the surgery, and they tell me, we found cancer,” Feuerborn said. “I thought my life was over. You know, I may not make it. This is it. I think that I really had to come to the possibility of death.”
“Being 18 years old and with metastatic cancer that spread to other organs, it’s very scary,” Crane said.
But Mark’s doctors fought hard and had high hopes for his chance of beating the cancer. He went through chemotherapy with Crane, and the HIPEC Procedure, developed by his surgeon Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, ultimately saved his life.
“We spent about 8 hours in there first removing the disease, and then it takes about two hours to administer the chemotherapy, then, of course, we have to close up,” explains Dr. Sugarbaker.
To further explain the HIPEC Procedure, Feuerborn said “They swirl this liquid chemotherapy inside of you, [almost] like a bath. It removes and burns out the cancer at the microscopic level.”
This year Feuerborn traveled with KSNT to visit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It’s because of his own battle with cancer that he not only relates with the kids at the hospital today, but also commends the life-saving research St Jude is conducting and sharing.
“The surgery that I went through that saved my life was discovered by one man, who just started passing it on to other people,” Feuerborn said. “It’s thanks to him that I am alive, and it’s thanks to research and techniques that other people are going to survive as well. So for St. Jude to do the exact same thing and do it for free, they’re not charging any other place for this research, it really means a lot.”
His fight with cancer fueled his passion for his career in journalism.
“Now I am helping other people tell their stories,” Feuerborn said. “That’s something that makes me feel lucky that I am alive today, and am in a career where I can help other people that potentially are dealing with the same thing as me.”
He is now five years cancer-free, but gets regular scans to make sure it doesn’t come back.
Sugarbaker performs the HIPEC Procedure at a hospital in Washington D.C., and the special technique is also now practiced at the University of Kansas Cancer Center within the region.