Glioblastoma patient's family's sacrifices

Mark Cunningham is one of the dozens of people in St. Lucie County who has been diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer, glioblastoma. Mark's glioblastoma slows his pace and his memory is fading.

WPTV uncovered an alarming number of cases within miles of each other in our area and the number keeps rising. The families of those battling glioblastoma know their days are likely numbered.

For the Cunningham family, they want every moment possible and the best care for Mark. That is why they make the six-hour round trip multiple times to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa for even just an hour of treatment.

The days the Cunningham family travels to Tampa, it's an early start; everyone is up at 5 a.m.

"I've learned to be really patient, even my 6 year old daughter has learned to be really patient, but it is tough sometimes," said Mark Cunningham.

The glioblastoma slows his pace and his memory is now fading. "Today was a good day, because sometimes we actually get in the car and he'll want to get out of the car and go brush his teeth. Well that's the third time he's brushed his teeth," said Stephanie Ankiel-Cunnigham, Mark's wife.

The Cunnighams say that's why each road trip to Tampa is so important.

During a trip to Moffitt April 11 they met multiple doctors. They wanted to discuss different issues Mark was experiencing and get advice as to why he's now vomiting at different times. They decided to give their total trust and time to the institute despite the distance and cost.

But the hourslong trips to Tampa for radiation and infusions become worth it if it means more time with his family. "Especially now, you just never know every day you wake up if that's going to be your last day," said Mark Cunningham.

Mark learned this week he doesn't have to go back to Moffitt for any other treatments for three weeks.

The Florida Department of health is taking action to address the concerns of glioblastoma in our area.

The Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County has met with several of the local glioblastoma patients and has offered its services to them

If you know of someone in the Fort Pierce area with glioblastoma, please contact reporter Meghan McRoberts at

Scripps Only Content 2018