Many of our readers have been following the Guest Views written by former editorial assistant and freelance writer/photographer Mark Reccek, documenting his battle with cancer.
Although a very private person, Mark felt it was important to share his journey with the readers and the many friends he had acquired through his work at The Press.
On Dec. 17 , Mark lost the fight.
Mark was well-educated with multiple degrees, one being a law degree. He was studying to take the bar exam to become a lawyer to represent those who could not represent themselves.
“Hello, is this Mark Reccek?”
“Yes, I am he,” I responded to the caller.
“Hi, Mark. I’m just calling to let you know Dr. K would like you to begin chemo next Tuesday,” the office assistant said.
And so, the next stage and chapter of beating cancer has begun.
Pensive, unsure and frightened are some of the words I would use to explain my first chemotherapy treatment.
Although the radiation doctor said the side effects would ramp up as treatments progressed, I raised my head and shoulders and pushed forward to the finish line.
My final radiation treatment was Aug. 15 at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg. After six weeks of receiving treatments, Monday through Friday, I can officially say I am finished with this stage of cancer treatment.
My final day consisted of a tradition shared by all who complete their course of cancer treatment: I rang a bell signifying the end of radiation.
“I got it close, but I couldn’t get it over the goal line.”
That’s the way state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill-Carbon, described his effort to shepherd a bill through the General Assembly to reduce the size of the House of Representatives from 203 to 151 members.
“We were one procedural vote away from getting this on the ballot, the closest we have ever come,” he said.
When Mark Reccek was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he began his treatment in the oncology department at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg, Bethlehem. The Marine was a fighter and wrote regularly for The Press newspapers.
While he was undergoing treatment, he was being cared for by his sister, Donna Kukor, of Bath. During his stints in the hospital, Reccek continued to write columns on the experiences he had during his treatment.
President George H.W. Bush espoused family and faith, and the values and virtues instilled in him growing up during the Depression years were building blocks for an extraordinary life of service to the nation.
During the recent moving eulogies in Washington, D.C., and in Texas, we repeatedly heard words like humility, grace, kindness, friendship and loyalty during the glowing tributes.
The accolades were refreshing, given the stream of toxic language spewing out of Washington now that divides the nation along political lines.
I read a book that a client gave me while I was on vacation recently. The book is titled “Imagine Heaven” by John Burke. The book’s main theme is to take a hard look at your life and see what you have actually done with it. This is an internal reflection of what really is important to you individually. Is it your family, faith, work, awards and accomplishments, social status, helping others including volunteering? The book asks repeatedly, “If you died today (death can come at any age), what have you actually done with your life?”
Hanukkah, a minor Jewish holiday, is often celebrated as a military victory. The Seleucid Greeks, ancestors of Alexander the Great, oppressed the Jews and did not permit them to practice their religion. Zeus was erected as a statue in the Holy Temple, and a swine was slaughtered there. The practice and teaching of Judaism was forbidden. The Maccabees rose up and won many battles against the most powerful nation in the world.