A love story: Mark Menendez’s fight to save his wife from pancreatic cancer

Max and Caroline MenendezMax and Caroline Menendez
When I talked to Mark the other day on the phone, he was very technical in his discussion with me about “Donna’s terminal cancer,” told me about how he has read “some 30 published medical studies” about it, how he searches for answers on the internet late into the night, “no stone left unturned.”

As he is talking, the note I write down is exactly this, “Dr. Mac=His Mom.”

When my friend Dr. Mac’s mother died recently, I went to the wake, as a good buddy would, and Mac was very clinical in what happened to his mother, I knew from knowing Mac as well as I do, the clinical, scientific approach, kept the emotions in check.

“Mark, how you doing man, tell me, friend to friend, how are you doing?”

Mark Menendez took a medical leave last year from the Elite series to take care of Donna, and when the cancer came back, he applied for and got a medical leave to take the 2014 season off, as well, since he is the primary caregiver for his wife.

Mark pauses in explaining the clinical trials they may go through beginning next week at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore…there is a tiny opening in the scientific safety fence.

“Dude…Mark…it’s db man…how are YOU doing?”

I hear a double clutch in his voice, in his breathing and then, the gate opens, “db, I don’t get it, she’s had hell on earth this lady, she was an orphan, all she ever wanted in life was a loving family, and now that she has it…it’s being taken away.”

I heard personal tales of “soul mates.”

Heard how they first laid eyes on each in THE SECOND GRADE.

Tales of their 10-year marriage.

Soft, loving, fun tales of their two children, 10-year-old Caroline and 9-year-old Max.

All talk comes to a halt when Mark mentions the children.

Last Friday night, we told the children, we went into our bedroom, both kids crawled up on our big bed and…

“I told Caroline that mommy’s cancer has come back…”

I only listen I couldn’t talk if I wanted to.

“And you know what that 10-year-old girl says to me?” and there is a long pause on both ends of the phone, “she says, she says, db she says, that’s okay daddy, mommy beat it once, she will beat it again.”

And then both kids crawled up into Mark and Donna’s laps,

and fell asleep.

“…but every time I think of you…”