This week, as my Save 1 Person News segment, I’d like to take you on a journey in the memory of a special and dear soul who lost his battle with bile duct cancer on 6/4/2011 at 6:13 p.m. Please let me share with you my extraordinary journey with Mark Fisher. Years ago, we met at Torah classes, we would talk when we bumped into each other for hours about future plans, G-d, and real estate. One day out of the blue I got a call from Mark saying, “I want to help you take Save 1 Person to the next level.” So we met several times to discuss how to grow the organization. Mark wanted to pitch Save 1 Person as a show idea to Mark Burnett Productions, because he had a good friend who worked there at the time. Mark was meticulous, all the i’s had to be dotted and t’s crossed before we moved forward with our pitch. At the time, Mark stopped suddenly calling for several months. Then one day, to my shock and dismay, Mark called and said I have bile duct cancer. Mark said he would be going to chemo treatments and asked if I would join him at the hospital during this process. From this moment on I learned the definition of strength, courage, commitment, partnership and love for G-d.
Whenever I would visit Mark in the hospital, we would sit for hours and talk not about his illness, but how he could help others. Mark would spend all of his hours with me trying to solve other people’s issues and concerns. Mark was also in the process of compiling thoughts for a book about how to pray with belief and gather sources to include in this book. Mark, spent hours with me giving me advice about my litigation with my father’s child, and he would spend hours figuring out the best course of direction for his children.
Mark during one of our visits, shared a story with me how actually saved a life. Mark said he was on his way to a business meeting and riding in an elevator, a man had a heart attack. Mark proceeded to tell me how he gave the man mouth to mouth and saved this man’s life until the ambulance arrived. On a personal note, I hate hospitals for obvious reasons, however, when I left the hospital with Mark, I always felt uplifted, moved and inspired. It was truly amazing. You would never know, he was in pain and that he wouldn’t walk out of the hospital door. I must admit I googled, how long one lives with bile duct cancer, and it didn’t look good. When I left the hospital always, I believed Mark would walk out that door. Why? Because Mark simply he believed he would. Mark was completely secular years ago and in his spiritual journey in the last two years he taught me what true “emunnah” (belief) in G-d …….I saw Mark attach his spirit to G-d in a profound and deep way, beyond words for me. In the last days of his life, I was allowed to go to the hospital to say good bye to Mark, my beloved friend. One’s physical eye could see Mark was losing his battle with this disease, his eyes were yellow, he had lost substantial weight in the last several weeks and he was too tired to hold his body up. When I was talking to him, I was trying so hard not to burst out crying (my dear friend was dying) and it was imperative to stay hopeful in the face of the last visit and Mark’s belief a miracle was around the corner. Mark’s final words to me were, come back in twenty minutes, “I am going to be much better.”
G-d was with Mark in this journey, Mark was clear with that concept and thought. And I was amazed even in Mark’s final moments of his life, how his belief could be so strong. One could argue, well he died – was G-d really with him? Mark was leaving behind a beautiful wife, three children and who could ever figure out the real reason why…….. And when Mark died, he left this world letting us know he had completed his mission here on Earth, simply by the time of his death. Anyone who knows Torah and Judaism, knows there are 613 mitzvoth. Mark left this world at 6:13 p.m Mark battling this disease accomplished his mission – 6:13. To me, it was a clear that G-d was with him and his will was encompassed and meshed with G-d’s will. Mark’s spirit was truly beautiful in how he handled the biggest challenge of his life.
Watching Mark’s battle, left me thinking maybe miracles don’t appear the way we hope or expect but in other ways that are truly life altering and changing. Maybe what was miraculous that Mark’s kept his belief, hope and spirit when G-d was taking his life away. Nothing could shake Mark’s belief and attachment to G-d in his final hours of life – when others might be resigned, Mark said nope G-d is the only healer, and refused to think any other way.
Mark leaves behind children, wife, friends, and family who are clearly not complete trying to make sense of his death. And that’s our challenge. At the funeral, they had Mark’s five-year-old saying Kaddish along with a Rabbi, and the whole service burst out crying. I was surprised they let a five-year-old say Kaddish. Yet, the thought that resonated with me, through the words of kaddish by a child – what rang out in the hall were the unspoken thoughts: don’t forget about this disease, don’t forget about the children and orphans this disease leaves behind! Don’t forget about the bridge we need to build to fix this world, to make sure this world becomes a better place. Don’t forget to find answers for diseases that seem un curable. Don’t forget is what resonated with me through the ringing of a 5-year-old’s words reverberating in the funeral hall. More than don’t forget, do something about it, find a cure, reach out to help, and let this be the bridge for something greater, for something holy, for many lives being saved in Mark’s holy memory.
Mark Fisher is my hero for the way he handled his greatest battle with grace, ease, dignity, courage and inspiration. Mark is my hero for coming so close to G-d that even in his greatest pain he shined like a star. And is with that sentiment, I’d like to ask all of us to build that bridge in Mark’s memory for a better future for mankind.
One bridge is for a charity that deals with this disease: The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. Their mission is to find a cure and improve the quality of life for those affected by bile duct cancer. As their reach continues to expand, they examine ways to improve diagnosis and early detection and advance therapies for prolonging life. The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation provides help for patients and caregivers, advocates for those afflicted and educates those who do not understand. The non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation is run solely by volunteers having lost a loved one to cholangiocarcinoma or suffering from cholangiocarcinoma and surviving. As their reach continues to expand, they examine ways to improve diagnosis and early detection and advance therapies for prolonging life.
The second bridge, I’d like to ask you to consider supporting is for a little baby who has her who life in front of her. Baby Polinia Ostapenko from the Ukraine was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia which is deadly. This baby needs a liver transplant to survive. This diagnosis occurs in 1 to 20, 000 newborn infants. In the congenital form, the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent. The only chance for life in this case is to make artificial bile ducts or to undergo liver transplantation.
Would you build a bridge in Mark’s holy memory? To find out more about this baby and see how you can make a difference go to: http://deti.zp.ua/eng/show_article.php?a_id=505361#address.
Mark Fisher may have left this world and now perhaps our mission is to build a bridge in Mark’s holy memory between death and life for people suffering with liver related medical issues. The bridge we build for Mark between heaven and Earth could be the bridge needed for our own children. To learn more about saving lives via the media please go to www.Save1person.org.