COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Roughly 126 Firefighters in Columbus are fighting cancer. Members of the fire department are working more now than ever in order to protect themselves. There is one firefighter in particular, battling for his own life, who is working to save others.
Mark Rine has been at the forefront of change within the Columbus Fire Department and is instrumental in the passing of Senate Bill 27 which acknowledges cancer as a work related illness for firefighters.
Father of five and husband, Mark Rine is 35 years old and a member of the Columbus Division of Fire. He’s living with a cancerous tumor on his spine. Instead of slowing down he is pushing forward to help other firefighters avoid cancer, helping to create a non-profit with his brother Kevin called SKNLUV. It benefits firefighters diagnosed with cancer and also helps to raise awareness to the issue. Not only is Mark Rine inspirational but he is the inspiration for this series. Mark Rine is The Fighting 126.
“I am Mark Rine. First description is I’m a father and a husband. The second, is I’m persistent,” said Mark Rine. Persistence may be one of the reasons he is still alive after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma at 30 years old. “A fireman was who I was. It’s how I defined myself.” He tried to work while being treated for cancer, but it became too difficult for his body to handle. “I had no idea my last shift was going to be my last shift.”
Now five years later, days can be really hard. “There are days where I feel like it is the last one. My body hurts I don’t feel good.” Despite that, his spirit has never quit. “I think a lot of it is just positive attitude.” His faith is strong. “I give all the credit to Jesus Christ because he has a plan for me. Something I never envisioned.” Through all of this his family has stayed strong. “We have a motto in this house. Every day we’re making memories. That is our business.”
He and his wife don’t let a terminal diagnosis keep them from dreaming of the future. “To this day we talk about retirement where we are going to live how we are going to split our time. We talk about grandchildren. “
After his diagnosis Mark discovered his joy in the kitchen. He loves cooking and his kids say he makes cupcakes that could compete on the TV shows. Mark continues to coach his kids sports teams, build onto the family home, and tend to chickens in their backyard in Granville.
He used to save lives as a firefighter on the streets and now he is saving lives of firefighters behind the scenes. “It is so much more rewarding to walk this world thinking about how I can help someone else. Cancer has made me a better me and I can say that with 100 percent honesty.” For the past few years he has been an outspoken voice advocating for Senate Bill 27 which acknowledges cancer is a work related illness for firefighters. Governor John Kasich signed the bill last year. Rine has researched the cause of cancer in firefighters and ways that firefighters can protect themselves and has created videos that are shown to new members of the fire department.
In September it will be five years since he was diagnosed. “I honestly have no idea how I’m sitting here with you. I shouldn’t be.” If he has anything to do about it he’ll be here living every moment to the fullest. “I’m going to be there in person for those mile stones and I’m going to give them the best advice I can at the time. But I’m going to be there.”
Mark Rine is the Fighting 126.