I’m 39 years old. For the past 15 years, I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Shannon, while we’ve raised our 4 children (Isaac- 14, Grace- 12, Rush- 11, Micah 10).
Although Shannon and I lived in a mobile home and qualified for welfare the first 5 years of our marriage…huffing and puffing to pay the monthly bills. All along, I had a secret dream of creating a thriving business that helped people live their life to the fullest.
So in 2008, I went to the public library (because we couldn’t afford internet access or a computer), and launched an internet business with about $90 to my name.
Much to my surprise, the business took off.
I quickly dedicated myself completely and totally to coaching entrepreneurs how to start and thrive businesses themselves. And the message grew quickly, spreading to 10’s of thousands of clients from all over the world in just a few years.
My amazing clients provided our family an equally amazing life. We have been able to journey the world, take great family vacations, and truly engage in the thrill of raising our children.
But 4 years ago, something weird happened.
Let me explain…
While wrestling with one of my kids, something felt strange in my stomach and suddenly, I couldn’t breathe.
I was raced to the E.R…I remember moving in and out of consciousness for several minutes. I nearly died on the stretcher.
Once I was finally stabilized, my wife and I were in our own hospital room. And I remember lamenting to her, “Jeez, I hope I don’t have a kidney stone or something like that because I don’t have 3 days to waste on this stuff.”
Sidebar: throughout my entire life, I rarely got sick. The flu would storm through our house and everyone, (even the dog! <—not kidding) would be puking. But I’d go around to everyone’s bed and give them a kiss goodnight. The kids had a little saying around the house: Dad doesn’t get sick. Period.
But anyway, back to my wife and I***A Doctor came to our hospital room and said, “I’m not sure how to tell you this…but you have hundreds of tumors on your liver and a massive tumor on your pancreas. There are also some other suspicious spots too.”
I was speechless, and mumbled the question, “You mean, I have cancer?”
“More tests are required, but I’m afraid so…and it’s very advanced” he said gravely.
It was like Mike Tyson in his prime gave me a full knockout punch.
I felt dizzy.
I thought about the kids.
One of my dreams was to walk my daughter Grace down the aisle at her wedding and toast my sons at their graduations and so much more. I thought about my parents. Friends. I thought about my bride being alone with the kids. I thought of all the unfinished dream projects in my heart. I just felt like all the spirit was taken out of me.
But it was the first day, we didn’t have much info yet, and I was still optimistic. I thought to myself, “People can live for decades with cancer nowadays.”
Within a day or so the official diagnosis arrived, I had “neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer.” <—exactly what Steve Jobs had.
There are fewer than 1000 cases of it per year, and 5-year survival rates are 1%.
Determined to live fully, I asked my Harvard-trained doctor, who specialized in this rare form of cancer, “Okay, what do the 1% do to survive?”
He replied, without batting an eye, “Those people were misdiagnosed. They never had what you have. No one lives with this disease. I’m sorry.”
I was coldly given my 2-4 months to live.
I had a small $500K life insurance policy (we had been meaning to increase the size of that policy for over 5 years but ‘life kept getting in the way I guess’).
The Life Insurance quickly paid out what is a called an “accelerated death benefit” <—when a team of doctors determine there is 0% chance the patient will live beyond 6 months, some policies will pay the majority of the death benefit to help ease the family’s pain through the last few months.
With that nice chunk of money, we went on a mission to heal me.
We aggressively looked for a cure, doing traditional chemo, experimental “out of pocket” radiation treatments that cost upwards of $100K. Also, we traveled across the world to famous healers. We even took seed money to launch “KingsLife” Insurance brokerage to help prevent families from being caught unprepared like we were.
Meanwhile, as my energy came and went…and came and went…and came and went…my ability to produce income dropped drastically.
I had such little energy to give, everything in my life suffered.
But we kept fighting. Month after month.
We would visit the Doctor and they’d say, “Well, you probably have 2-4 months to live.” <—the last four years of Doctor’s visits feel like groundhogs day because they also repeat like a broken-record “you probably have 2-4 months to live…possibly less.”
Nonetheless, we stay resilient. I’ve been in and out of hospice 3 times. My body keeps reviving itself. It wants to live. I can feel it. One time my hemoglobin count was down to 3 (average men my age are around 13-17) and they gave me 24 hours to live. But somehow I bounced out of that with a full body blood transfusion.
But the scary rollercoaster continued, just a short while ago (on Nov. 26th 2017), I had a couple tumors in my back eat away a couple vertebra and I woke up paralyzed from the waist down.
Upon waking up, they raced me to the E.R. for two emergency spine surgeries. The slicing and cutting through my spine and back muscles brought excruciating nerve pain I didn’t know was even possible.
So as I type this, I’m learning how to walk again, put on shoes, shorts, and function.
A chorus of Doctor’s have united again in sharing with me that it’s unlikely my body will be able to rebound from this surgery on top of my Stage 4 diagnosis…and again, that I probably have 2-4 months to live. They recommend hospice again.
But…that’s where a group of my friends and clients enter the picture. They called me and said, “You’ve been able to beat this for 4 years, and you can keep doing it. We want to throw you the ultimate gofundme fundraiser!”
This GoFundMe has two primary purposes:
#1- To help alleviate constant rain of medical bills and expenses this disease brings.
#2- To set up Shannon and the children so they can continue to advance the Hoverson Brands you created.
Personally, for the last 4 years, I’ve been very resistant to asking anyone for any help. In many ways, I was ashamed to ask because I knew many years ago that we should have upped our life insurance to at least $5M…but my procrastination prevented it from getting done. And being known as a man who has a little bit of wisdom, the amount of folly in not making that a priority for my family has caused me great regret.
But my mother’s wise advise was not to dwell on my mistakes, but rather take everything to God in prayer and trust <—Thank God for a Mother’s Wisdom!
As I mention in the video above, it’s emasculating to not be able to provide for one’s family (at least that’s how I feel).
However, I want to make sure that our family is taken care of and I want to show my children that even in this dark “valley of the shadow of death”, bright and brilliant hope still exists for our family and that anything is possible.
Even breaking the Go Fund Me Record! <—which I can only thank our launch team of over 35 friends and clients for putting this vision in front of us!
To finish, a dear friend called me earlier today and told me the real reason he is standing tall to champion this gofundme.
“Mark, you’ve been able to defy death over and over using the same strategies you teach others to overcome challenges in their life.”
He moves on…“This movement is about believing that no matter what the circumstances you find yourself in: whether you are given a scary cancer diagnosis, or wake up unexpectedly paralyzed…there are ways to overcome everything and keep fighting through with will-power, prayer, community, and God.”
My friend’s words stirred my soul. And I hope they resonate with yours too.
Please consider making a donation of any size today. It means the world to me, my wife, and our children. Thank you.
Mark and Shannon Hoverson Isaac, Grace, Rush and Micah