To soar like an Eagle

Many years ago Mark acquired a plaster statue of an eagle perched on a rock, wings lifted and head cocked. I have no idea where it came from: Was it a gift? Did he buy it? I will never know, because Mark died without communicating to his family or friends the significance of the eagle in his life. Mark was fiercely ambitious, a perfectionist, and wryly aware of how difficult it is to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys! Perhaps it was a symbol of possibilities.


Every time Mark moved house his eagle artifacts were packed with care in layers of bubble wrap and plenty of padding in the boxes to protect them during the journey. In every house, they took pride of place. Then, one day, somehow, one wing broke off the large eagle – a clean break across the wing, quite close to the body.

Devastated but certain the wing could be fixed, Mark tried every kind of adhesive he could get, but just like Humpty Dumpty, nothing – nothing – would hold the two pieces of wing together.

Still he was determined to keep the eagle – broken wing and all. All of his friends and family who helped him move house – and, believe me, Mark moved house often – laughed about this damn eagle with the broken wing, but whoever was given the responsibility of looking after it would carefully wrap the eagle and its wing piece together and carry it in their lap in the car to ensure its safe arrival.


Several times I suggested that perhaps it was time to dispose of the “poor thing” and toss it out! I really couldn’t understand why Mark would want to hold on to a broken statue and it got under my skin. Mark was such a perfectionist – how could he bear to live with a broken statue? Mark had his reasons, but he never conveyed them to anyone and he never gave in. The eagle lived on, despite my protests.

In mid-July, 2006, Mark was diagnosed with cancer in his left arm and just 5 weeks later the arm was amputated just below the shoulder. The oncologist told Mark that the cancer had been growing silently and painlessly inside his arm for years – just how many years was impossible to say.

During his illness, Mark again moved house – twice. The broken eagle was carefully wrapped and carried each time and finally arrived safely in the last home Mark was to live in. It was again given pride of place in Mark’s living room and he asked for a large print of a soaring eagle to be hung over the head of his bed, where it remained for the last few months of his life.

It took us – Mark, his friends and myself, many months after his left arm was amputated to realize that the eagle was a symbol that even Mark was not aware of at the time. The eagle he so treasured had lost its left wing – and so had Mark. Ironically, part of Mark’s rehabilitation was to be fitted with a prosthetic left arm, but the arm never really fitted properly and he only wore it while he underwent training in its use. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Mark together again.

Mark maintained that his life stopped the day he was told of the cancer and that he would lose his left arm. Similarly, his eagle was unable to soar from the time it lost half of its left wing. Did the cancer start then? Who knows? Is it really important? Probably not, but the coincidence is a bit “Twilight Zonish”.

During the last two weeks of Mark’s life he and I had several conversations about what I would hold on to as a permanent memento and celebration of his life. I suggested I might get a tattoo and he laughed so hard he was in serious pain! Once he calmed down, we talked about the most appropriate tattoo design that might give me a lasting reminder of the real, diverse person that was Mark. We agreed that there was no one image that I could use, and the idea was dropped.


Such a permanent memento is not something to decide lightly or in any haste. It doesn’t even need to be decided, because sometimes these things just make themselves evident.

Several weeks after Mark’s funeral I was re-arranging furniture and packing up some of his effects. I lifted the eagle down from the bookshelf then put it back and went on with other things. Over the following weeks I moved it from shelf to shelf, never packing it, never able to put it away. After several weeks of this, suddenly the light dawned – the eagle was to be my lasting memento of Mark, his broken left “wing” and his soaring ambitions that were cut short at the age of 35.

I cared for my damaged “eagle” with his broken left “wing” from a few weeks after the amputation until the day he died – just as Mark had treasured his plaster eagle from the day it’s left wing was broken and never gave up on it. Mark’s precious eagle now resides in a place of honour in my living room and will remain there always.

On September 1, 2007, God took Mark to soar with the angels in Heaven. I have no doubt that Mark is looking down and laughing fondly at me, saying “See? I knew it is was important!”

©2007 Trish Upham

Companies That Give Back

There are several companies that donate a portion of their proceeds to cancer research.  Below is a small list of companies that give back to support cancer research.

Note that this is just a small sampling of companies that we know donate to charities and cancer research. We would like to thank them for giving back to help stop cancer. If you know of additional companies that you would like us to add, please let us know.


Sarcoma Info

Synovial Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer. It typically occurs in the joints. This can include the arm, legs, and neck. It is one of many of the soft tissue sarcomas. It is one of the rarest cancers and is usually found in the young.

Symptoms can range from fatigue to a swelling mass.

Additional information

This is the type of cancer that Mark had and lost his battle to. It makes one realize that life should not be taken for granted as we never know what tomorrow will bring. Please take time to enjoy your time and appreciate the gift you have been given. We all have a finite amount of time and never know when that will come to a halt with a common alignment or a rare form of cancer. Enjoy today.


About Our Site

This site was originally setup as a tribute to a young man in Australia and his battle with synovial sarcoma. The story both motivated me and made me want to work to enjoy life more as it is short and we are only on earth for a limited time.

I hope to pass along inspirational gifts and share my journeys to help motivate others to take full advantage of the opportunities they are presented. I reside in Monrovia, PA which is outside of Frederick.

I thank you in advance for visiting my site and hope you are able to find use from the motivational content located throughout the pages. If you would like to share your story or simply chat, please feel free to reach out to me at