Mark A. Segura and 3 others are organizing this fundraiser.
My name is Mark Segura and I am in the fight of my life. I have cancer. My diagnosis is Stage III Mixed Cellularity Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Growing up I've always had two main passions in my life, music and martial arts. I've been playing piano for as long as I can remember and started wrestling when I was five years old. At age nine I started my first band class playing percussion. At the same time I started training in Karate. Both of these would go on to shape the rest of my life.
As I progressed in music I was given many opportunities through my hard work and dedication. In the seventh grade my school awarded me a scholarship to attend Colorado State University's summer music program. Once in high school I took advantage of every opportunity available. This also led to me playing in the Continental League Honor Band three years in a row, performing at Boettcher Concert Hall at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. When it was time to start thinking about college, I applied and auditioned to five schools, all of which I was accepted to. I decided to attend Loyola University New Orleans where I majored in Music Education. What better place to study music than the birthplace of Jazz? After two years of study and despite scholarships and grants I was no longer able to afford college and could not continue attending. Even though I had to leave, my passion for music never died. I continued to teach private lessons and perform as a freelance drummer.
My passion for martial arts started with wrestling. I grew up in my high school's wrestling room. My uncle Joe was the coach and I attended his summer wrestling camp and worked as a helper at his tournaments every year. However, once I reached high school, I was not able to wrestle under my uncle. In 2012, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiform Brain Cancer. This was my first experience with cancer. In the year after his diagnosis I watched the strongest, most disciplined and vibrant person I know age into an old man. The cancer was very aggressive and the treatments took their toll as well. Just a year after he was diagnosed, when I was thirteen years old, my uncle Joe passed away, just two weeks before his 38th birthday. This was a major blow to me as we were close and he was my godfather as well. I continued to wrestle into my sophomore year of high school, but it just wasn't the same without him.
At nine years old I joined the Young Olympians and started training Shotokan and Goju-Ryu Karate. I continued training and and progressing, always looking to expand my skill. I studied as many styles and systems as I could. Although I did compete in tournaments, this was not my goal. I loved the idea of using my skills to protect others and focusing on training not only for self-development, but also self-defense. This took my training to a different level. This led to me working in the Loyola University Police Department when I was in college. I figured it was a great way to utilize what I had learned in the service of others. At the same time I met and began training with Master Jeff Mores and Sensei Perry Tassin of the Ti Da Na Martial Arts Federation. After evaluation of my skill, they recognized me as a black belt and I eventually became the Federation's Head Instructor and tournament fight coach and earned my second degree black belt. I led self-defense classes as well. This became my new focus of training. Not only did I want to protect people, I wanted to teach them to protect themselves. When I returned to Colorado, I started working in security to continue to protect people. I eventually got a job in a Community Corrections Program as a Correctional Technician. At the same time I pursed training and got certified as an Executive Protection Specialist. I started taking protection contracts and got hired of as Executive Protection Manager and Self-defense instructor of a local security firm. Eventually I did leave both of those jobs, but continued to take private protection contracts and work security part-time. In December of 2017 I started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing at Nova Mente Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Here I found a home and an empowered community.
Early in August of this year I was having pain and stiffness in my neck. I had a lump on the right side of my neck that had grown significantly in size over the course of about six months. I went to the doctor and had it examined. My doctor consulted with a surgeon to have the mass removed. The surgeon ordered an ultrasound which revealed that the mass was three enlarged lymph nodes. This led the doctors to suspect cancer. An ultrasound guided needle biopsy was performed on the mass. After a week of waiting and anticipation we received a call from my doctor verifying that the test revealed it was indeed cancer, Classical Hodgkins Lymphoma. My amazing girlfriend, Casandra, never even hesitated to stay with and support me when we received the news. She has been there for me every step of the way, at every appointment, taking care of me, and making sure that I remain strong through this. After the initial of diagnosis I met with an oncologist at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, Dr. Solipuram. She reviewed my case and suggested chemotherapy as treatment. After testing my heart and lungs to make sure they were strong enough for treatment I had a PET scan which revealed that the cancer had spread from the lymph nodes in my neck to one in my back, in my pelvic region, and into my spleen. I had to have a bone marrow biopsy to make sure that it had not spread into my bones. I had surgery to have a huber needle port implanted into my chest and fed into my jugular vein to inject the chemotherapy drugs. This has already been a rough road and only going to get tougher once I start treatment.
I am trying to stay strong through all of this. With Casandra, my family, and my friends by my side I know I can get through this. I have been telling everyone and myself that this is not going to define me and rule my life. I plan on living my life as normal with a few appointments in between. I do have some goals that will unfortunately have to be placed on hold for the duration of my treatment. I want to marry my amazing girlfriend, to become the father of her children, and buy a home together. We are trying to build a life and family together. I love her with all my heart and appreciate all she does for me. She helps keep my head on a swivel and my focus on the important things. She is the person I am glad I wake up to and go to sleep with every night because with her there I know I will be ok.
I am calling on my support network to help me in any way they can. Medical bills, even with insurance, do cause financial strain and I appreciate any help I can get in this form. I want to continue to help people by empowering them and giving them the skills and knowledge to protect themselves. I want to continue to entertain people and express myself though music. I want to live a full life and build a family. I can only do this with the support of those who care about me. Together we can beat this.