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Local man passes away after fight against glioblastoma

Wife still pushing for answers for dozens of families
Posted at 10:45 PM, Nov 22, 2019

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — His story helped bring needed attention to a deadly disease and bring hope to a community of people battling glioblastoma.

This week, 35-year-old Mark Cunningham was laid to rest after passing away last week.

His inspiring fight lasted years longer than doctors predicted and his story continues to provide hope and push for local answers.

Mark’s wife, Stephanie, has been pushing that fight forward, despite grieving her husband’s death.

“I think a lot of people honestly think that because we fought for so long that you’re prepared, but you can never prepare for that,” Stephanie said. “I lost my husband, you know, my daughter lost her father.”

Stephanie spent 7-years as her husband’s biggest advocate, exhausting every option to give Mark the best chance of survival against glioblastoma.

Now, she says she will still be fighting for answers for dozens of other local people battling glioblastoma.

“I know I'm going to continue. If anything, I’m going to come back stronger. I think Mark would expect that. He wouldn’t expect anything less from me,” Stephanie said.

Her non-profit organization, BRAIN Cancer Foundation of the Treasure Coast, aims to raise money for local glioblastoma research and environmental testing. Through the non-profit, she has also created a mapping database she hopes could help spot potential cancer clusters early.

Mark’s story helped grab the attention of lawmakers, including U.S Congressman Brian Mast, who shared the concerns of dozens of St. Lucie County families that the number of local cases was higher than they should be.

Wednesday, Mast spoke in Washington DC in front of Congress about Mark, honoring him on the day of his funeral.

“…[glioblastoma] is unfortunately prevalent in a part of Florida that I represent. In fact, just last week, my friend Mark Cunningham who was diagnosed with this aggressive cancer three years ago passed after many years of fighting for his life. I ask that you join me in praying for the Cunningham family and all those still fighting this horrible disease. I also ask that you thank God for the inspiring person that Mark proved to be every day of his life,” Mast said.

“It’s a revolving door. There are way too many people affected. This is absolutely not normal,” Stephanie said.

She still hears about local cases regularly. Most recently, she was called about a 47-year-old husband and father, diagnosed just weeks ago. A benefit is being held for Bill Eiseman Saturday, November 23 from noon to 7 p.m. at Tailgators Brews and Grill in Port St. Lucie.

She’s also lending her support to Don Achor’s family. Don is in his 5th week of hospice care following a 23-month battle with glioblastoma.

Don’s wife, Cleide, supports Stephanie’s quest for answers. “Many times I have to put a smile on my face, with my heartbreaking. I don’t like to cry near my husband,” Actor said.

Stephanie says local testing is underway related to glioblastoma research. She hopes the findings will help guide her next steps in her investigation and anticipates releasing new information about the testing early next year.