The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 19, 2013

Lt. Col. Mark Weber's story will live on

Former aide to Petraeus, dying of cancer, father shares his experiences for sons


Time running out

Weber is candid about how he's feeling these days.

"Underneath my clothing and inside my body I am an absolute train wreck. I have a permanent, visible hole in my abdomen that I call the "bullet hole" because that's what it looks like. I leak the contents of my stomach 24/7. A permanent catheter connects the remaining 20 percent of my liver to my body and dangles from my side to drain excess fluids Ñ 24/7."

He's in the middle of his fourth trial of chemo, but the inoperable cancer in his liver is growing. One of his tumors is the size of a grapefruit.

Weber didn't mince words when emailing MSU about the possibility of him delivering a "last lecture" at the university, urging them to be quick in their response about scheduling the talk.

"Time does not afford me the ability to be timid on bold suggestions," he wrote. "I'm operating on about 20 percent of my liver, and the cancer is slowly consuming what's left. My eyes and skin are already yellow and the toxin levels in my blood are eight times normal. There's actually a lot more I'm dealing with, but I imagine you get the point."

However, Weber said, if you passed by him on a good day, you'd be hard-pressed to know he's sick. Around the house, he's still pulling dad and husband duties, even cutting down and clearing trees.

"Some people jokingly say I'm faking my own death because there's no way a guy with cancer and such complications should be able to do what I do."

Weber plans his life about a month in advance with regard to his physical health, but when he contracts sepsis, the timeline changes to days or even hours, he said. On bad days, he experiences "really low lows" and is in constant pain and discomfort, but it's less noticeable when he's active.

"I guess part of me believes that if I keep moving, the "enemy" can't pin me down," he said. "Seems to be working."

Mentally, Weber seems at peace.

"I'm not afraid or upset. My faith tells me what's next, and how can I be upset when I've been able to do what I have for the past two years?" he said. "I think most of the fear and anger in life comes from mulling over options that don't exist. I accept and take action on the options I've been given, which is death or just one more day."


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