Dad confronts cancer after tragedy

Janna Sherman
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A Hokitika man is fighting against a brain cancer, one step at a time.
Mark Bowes was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme tumour in 2012, just after being involved in a car accident that claimed the life of his nine-year-old son, Tayne.
He was given less than two years to live himself. However, he recently cleared that mark.
Now he and his family are doing their part to help others avoid the same heartache and fight for more research on the cancer.
Mr Bowes will join a Cure Brain Cancer Foundation team in Australia next month to run for the cause in the ‘Bridge to Brisbane’ charity event.
Former Hokitika woman Sarah Olson, now a Brisbane-based neurosurgeon, is also on the team. The pair went to school together and Mark said both families had been in regular contact since his diagnosis.
Dr Olson was recently nominated for a Pride of Australia medal for her groundbreaking research in brain cancer, and work towards a cure.
“Sarah is pretty inspirational,” Mr Bowes said.
“We have liaised with her over the last few years and we plan to meet up on the day.”
Mark’s parents Murray and Jenny Bowes will also run in the event, which raises funds for a number of different charities.
Last year a record $940,557 was donated to over 200 charity organisations. The target for this year is $1 million.
So far Mark Bowes alone has raised $7000 through the generosity of friends and family, both in New Zealand and Australia.
His wife, Katrina, said they were overwhelmed by the support.
She said they started with a goal of $700, which they raised in just three donations. The target was moved up as support flowed in and was last at $7000. On Friday, they had already reached $6500.
Hokitika Primary School held a mufti-day on Friday, contributing a further $240.
Mrs Bowes said brain cancer research was still the least-funded of all cancers and even a small amount could make a difference.
Statistics from the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation showed that $10 could educate five teachers on early detection of brain cancer, $50 could pay for a nurse to enrol a patient in a clinical trial, and $400 could fund a researcher in the lab for a day.
“We paid the ultimate price to find out Mark had it. I would hate to see anyone else have to go through what we have,” Mrs Bowes said.
Their son was killed when a four-wheel-drive vehicle driven by Mark rolled into a goldmining pond off Adairs Road, near Takutai. Their daughter, Keira, survived after spending nearly two hours in water in the submerged vehicle.
Mark has no recollection of the tragedy.
“The day before that accident I was just like everyone else, completely unaware of the direction my life was going to take,” he told the Guardian.
“I have since undergone radiation and chemo and had a further tumour removed earlier this year, followed by more treatment. I am presently tumour-free, staying positive and doing really well.”
On initial diagnoses the 40-year-old was given 15 to 18 months to live. He recently reached the two-year mark and has a scan every six months to monitor the tumour. His last scan, in June, was clear.
“We just take one scan at a time,” Mrs Bowes said.
“You really can only just deal with each scan as it comes. Because there is no cure for his brain cancer, any research they can do to prolong his life benefits all of us.”’
People can make an on-line donation and leave a message of support for the family through the link https://b2b2014.everydayhero.com/au/mark-bowes.
Runners in the Bridge to Brisbane event, on September 7, will get two times - a race time and a ‘Hero’ time. The Hero time is the entrant’s race time, minus a second for every dollar raised.