My potential is God's gift to me,
      What I do with my potential is my gift to God......


USAF Experimental Test Pilot, Entrepreneur, Cancer Survivor, Attempts to be First Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient to Summit Mt Everest

In 1999, I was on top of the world.  I was the number one rated USAF Experimental Test Pilot, a top 1% Air Force Officer and had a 2-star hand written endorsement to go fly the space shuttle in the NASA class of 2000.  I had flown over 50 different aircraft, 100+ elevated risk test missions and graduated at the top of every school. I competed in marathons, triathlons (never lost) and thought I was in peak condition.  That all changed in April of 1999.  I had been having a pain in my left leg that the doctors were unable to alleviate. It was finally determined that I needed to have an MRI of my spine to ascertain if it was nerve related.  In conjunction with the MRI they decide to have blood drawn to eliminate causal effects.  What they found in the blood test stunned them.  They even repeated the test as the doctor thought the lab had messed up the test.  My red blood cell count was about 1/3 of what it was supposed to be.  I was immediately referred to an oncologist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.  Naval Captain Fred Millard, the head of the Oncology Department, was my assigned doctor.  At diagnosis, it was determined that I had stage 4 Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia or Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma (click on tabs for complete description) with over 90% cancer involvement in my bone marrow and cancer cells in both my lymph nodes and  blood stream.  I also had an even rarer version that caused numerous autoimmune system disorders.  At the time my only child, Evan, was 10 months old and they did not think I would live long enough to see him turn one year old.  Over the next five years, I was told three times I would not live through the night, underwent chemotherapy over a dozen times, brain surgery to remove a growth the size of a walnut, had both my spleen and gall bladder removed, had my body turn on itself and kill my red blood cells, my white blood cells, my platelets, my central nervous system, had over 50 blood transfusions, was placed on super high doses of steroids that took over a year to restart my adrenal gland, had the immune system of an aids patient, was partially paralyzed four times and totally paralyzed once, even had uncontrollable hiccups t hat had to be medically treated!  In the summer of 2004, I was running out of treatment options.  Waldenstroms is a very rare cancer so there is no known cure and there are not a tremendous number of treatment options available to patients and I had undergone all of them.  At the time, they were draining three liters of fluid out one lung, giving me several units of blood, and chemotherapy every 4-5 days.  In September of 2004 I underwent an unrelated donor bone marrow transplant that changed my blood type from O-negative to A-positive and have been disease free ever since with no side effects or graft versus host disease.

Winners need one reason, whiners need one excuse.   Over that same five year period, I was able to remain on active duty in the Air Force, which had never been done before by an incurable cancer patient.  I continued to excel as a 2-star General Executive Officer and squadron commander receiving the highest scores on unit climate assessments the Air Force had ever seen and graduating at the top of my class at Air Command and Staff College.  I was able to win 5 triathlons and a NORBA mountain bike race.  Three years to the exact date of my transplant, I was able to run the Air Force Marathon placing in the top 20% of all competitors and achieving a new personal record.  Over that same period, I studied a tremendous amount on leadership and was able to teach leadership to the top echelon of Air Force and USAF Academy cadets.  I have had the privilege of being coached by John C. Maxwell and other leadership experts and numerous other successful businessmen.  I have been able to share my experiences and teach at speaking engagements around the country including the National Contract Managers Association National Convention, the Youth With A Mission International Business Conference, the El Paso County Workers conference, World Wide Dream Builders Business Conference and other conferences.  I have also had articles and TV stories done on my journey by Christian Broadcasting Network/700 club, Air Force TV News, News First 5, Airman Magazine and others.  Now I have just returned from climbing Mt Everest (check out the videos and clips on the other tabs).  I spent two months in Nepal with an expedition led by Peak Freaks and made it to 24,000' (7,300 Meters) before getting a virus and being forced to turn around.  My goal is to be a role model and give hope to individuals who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses.  I want to teach those and others without terminal illnesses how they can be and do whatever they want to in life, and to lead their lives, not accept their lives.  I want to share what I have learned over the last ten years with others and help them be succesful in whatever endeavors they choose. Unfortunately, many cancer patients self impose limits on their lives or have others place limits on who or what they can become.  I saw this many times in my life and others.  Barriers are errected because they hear the word cancer.  My goal was to be the Roger Bannister of cancer survivors.  Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4-minute mile demolishing a long standing myth that it could never be done.  Once he broke through the paper barrier, 17 other people broke the 4-minute mile that year and over 100 the next year.  It only takes one to show the world that cancer is not a limiting factor in peoples life.  If you would like me to come speak to your organization (I do not charge any speaker fee) or would like to join our cause to inspire families and help give back to local communities(see link at left), please contact me at the contact me tab or the information at the bottom of the page.  Have a blessed day!

Mark Schaible
19580 Glen Shadows Dr
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
(888) 246-6712
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