Cancer is many things. For Mark Young, 25, it was a dream changer. Young was a college student living a charmed life. Tall, handsome, witty and talented, Young had countless friends and was the oldest son in a close knit family led by mom, Penny, and dad, Mark. As a baseball player for Norfolk State University, it seemed certain that Young was going to be one of the lucky ones who truly gets to live his dream: to play professional baseball. Baseball scouts were interested in him, and as his college career drew to a close, it didn’t seem like things could be any better.
Then the headaches started. Young’s mom insisted that they pay a visit to the doctor, just to be safe. The night after some tests were run, Mark was summoned to the emergency room. They told him he needed to come right away. It was in that emergency room that the Young family got the news that would change everything, and turn their world upside down. Mark had Medullablastoma, a brain tumor. He was rushed into surgery where they were able to remove almost the entire tumor, but the Mark who awoke from sleep after the surgery was not the same in some ways. This promising athlete would need to relearn basic skills, such as how to walk. His vision was also compromised during the surgery. While his long-term prognosis was yet to be known, it seemed clear that his professional baseball career was not to be.
Now, some would say that, in this case, cancer was a dream killer, but Young would strongly disagree. As much as he wanted to play professional baseball, Young actually looked at his cancer in a far more positive light. Cancer could not kill his dreams, just change them a little. Young’s family and friends rallied around him during his long recovery. Some were surprised with each huge leap of progress that he made. Today, Young is doing extremely well; his most recent tests showed no sign of cancer in his body. Young graduated from college and he is looking forward to possibly attending graduate school. And baseball is still an important part of his life.
Remember, for Young cancer was not a dream killer, just a dream changer. He may not ever play in a major league game, but that’s not such a huge loss in Young’s eyes. He just loves the game. He also loves helping people which is why his coaching gig at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia, is a perfect fit for him. He coaches the varsity team, so maybe one day he’ll watch one of his players stand on the pitcher’s mound in a major league ballpark, and he’ll know that he had a small hand in making that happen.