Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Who is Mark Gelinas?
I've known Mark since 1980. That's the year I moved to Mt. Prospect (from Germany), and Mark was one of my classmates at Prospect High School. We went our seperate ways in college (I went to Illinois, he went to Illinois State), but we remained friends. After we both graduated, we were even roommates for a year in the Depaul area of Chicago. (He has lived in Atlanta for many years now)
But this book didn't get published because Mark and I are old friends. This book got published because it's a hell of a story, and Mark has chronicled every moment of it.
A few years ago Mark was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Everyone close to him realized what that meant. We all knew the odds, and they weren't good. Pancreatic cancer is the single most deadly cancer you can have.
But something incredible happened when Mark shared this news via facebook. A community emerged. A community of friends, family, acquaintances, and complete strangers. A community of people all rooting for him, all providing their voices, their words, and their prayers.
This community was known as "Gel Strong", because that's Mark's nickname. Friends created a logo, and began to sell shirts and other items with Mark's mug on it. This facebook group grew nearly 1000 strong in a just a few months, and Mark used that communal strength to help him through the horrible process of chemotherapy and surgery.
As a form of therapy, Mark chronicled what was happening to him in real time. He shared some of it with the Gel Strong group, but some of the grittier details were spared.
Earlier this year he contacted me about turning what he had written into a book. Of course I had been following along on the Gel Strong page myself, but it wasn't until I read his dramatic words that I began to realize everything he had been through. He wrote it from the heart, and he wrote it with unflinching honesty.
But he also wrote it with such a joyous and positive spirit that I absolutely had to share it with the world. This book is one of the most inspiring things you'll ever read. It's a testament to the power of community. It's a tribute to the power of postivity. But it's also about a man who handled the worst situation imaginable with dignity and grace.
Gel Strong is available right now on our Eckhartz Press site, but Mark will be in town this coming weekend to host a book launch/signing event as well. (Details in the flyer below).
Hope to see you there!
Both Mark and Eckhartz Press are donating a portion of the proceeds to Winship Cancer Institute of Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. GA, to support their ongoing research in an effort to win the battle over cancer, specifically pancreatic cancer.