LEADERSHIP: Mark Schaible
IBO beat rare and deadly form of cancer, then climbed Everest to further inspire.
Mark Schaible always was a leader, so the military was a natural fit for him. After joining the Air Force, he became its No. 1-rated experimental test pilot and a top 1% officer. He was endorsed to train as a space shuttle pilot.
But in April 1999, at age 34, he was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, an uncommon and deadly form of blood cancer that usually affects people older than 65. He had an even rarer version that caused various autoimmune system disorders.
Mark, a Founders Platinum, initially wasn’t expected to live long enough to see his 10-month-old son turn 1 year old. Three times over the next five years, he was told that he would not live through the night. But not only did he beat the disease, he now speaks to groups everywhere about his experience in an effort to give hope to others facing cancer.
For his efforts, Mark Schaible is the recipient of the 2012 Amway Hero Award for Leadership.
“I think it’s awesome that the company actually does that – that they recognize people who are contributing and giving back to society,” he says. “I think that’s great.”
Mark lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife of 25 years, Elizabeth; son Evan, 14; and daughter Christina, 10. He retired from the Air Force in March 2009 and has been an Amway Independent Business Owner since March 2000.
Cancer free after bone marrow transplant
Mark has been free of cancer since receiving a bone marrow transplant in September 2004. Before that, he underwent more than a dozen chemotherapy treatments and 50 blood transfusions, had a walnut-size growth removed from his brain, and was partially paralyzed four times and totally paralyzed once.
He vividly remembers his first round of chemo. “It went extremely badly. It kicked off a lot of autoimmune disorders that were killing off red blood cells faster than they could pump them into me. When your life is like at an end, you start to think about what did your life mean?”
Until he became ill, Mark says he led an egotistical, self-centered life. “I was not what you would call your perfect leader,” he says. “Back then, I was not a very nice person. My sister used to joke that my ego would arrive 10 seconds before I did.”
Then he became a born-again Christian, inspiring him to start serving others and giving him a positive new outlook on life. During the five years from his diagnosis to his transplant – and despite his body often being ravaged by chemotherapy – he continued to hold his position as a squadron commander and an executive officer to a two-star general. He also won five triathlons and a mountain bike race. On the third anniversary of his transplant, he finished the Air Force Marathon.
“I can show you how to fly an F-16, but if you’re not motivated to show up for flying lessons, I can’t help you.”
— MARK SCHAIBLE
Everest climb made statement
In 2011, Mark spent two months in Nepal in an attempt to become the first bone marrow transplant recipient to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He trained 18 months for the climb and got to 24,000 feet before getting a virus that forced him back down the mountain.
“I didn’t want to be defined by cancer,” he says. “One of the reasons I climbed Mount Everest is because I saw a lot of people that, when they were diagnosed with cancer, they started putting roadblocks and limits on their lives and what they could do.”
Elizabeth Schaible says they started their Amway™ business shortly after his diagnosis.
“Mark was unsure just how long he was going to be around and he wanted to make sure that my son and I were provided for,” she says.
They believe that NUTRILITE® supplements helped him to get healthy again.
Mark says his leadership style as an upline is to get people to set goals and understand their own motivations.
“I can show you how to fly an F-16, but if you’re not motivated to show up for flying lessons, I can’t help you,” he says.
Hero photos from Achievers 2012 on Flickr: