GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Instead of letting cancer discourage him, Mark Tenzer of Greenburgh turned his battle with the deadly disease into an opportunity to help his community.
Tenzer, 62, will host a local public access show called "Fighting Cancer With Mark Tenzer" to talk with cancer patients, oncologists and cancer support groups. After dealing with three bouts of cancer himself, Tenzer knows what it's like to struggle with the disease.
"It's terrifying, to say the least," Tenzer said. "I want to reach out to as many people as I can and give them the hope and guidance they need."
Tenzer visited a dentist in 2005 when he started feeling something growing on the back of his tongue. After being referred to an oral surgeon and receiving a biopsy, he was told he had stage-four squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
"It hit me over the head pretty hard," he said.
A 12-hour surgery and several weeks in the hospital later, and the tumor was gone. For seven years, Tenzer was cancer-free — until this past January.
The cancer had metastasized to the left side of his face. Tenzer would need chemotherapy before he could receive surgery. He didn't think his luck could get any worse, until several months later in May, when doctors found cancer in the right side of his face.
"I got hit by cancer three times. After the first time, I didn't have many people to rely on," he said. "It was tough."
Not wanting anyone to be unprepared as he was, Tenzer ran a cancer support group at White Plains Hospital. His "Fighting Cancer" TV show is just another way to teach others how to deal with cancer, both patients and their families, he said.
"They say three out of four people in Westchester County will wind up with cancer or know someone with cancer," he said. "I said to myself, 'If so many people are going to wind up with cancer, why not do a show about it?' "
Tenzer also hosted a Greenburgh public access show in the early 1990s called "Community Concerns With Mark Tenzer." He said the "Fighting Cancer" schedule hasn't been set yet, but to check the Town of Greenburgh's website for more information.
Though his cancer is in remission, Tenzer was told by doctors there is a 95 percent chance that it will return. But Tenzer said that with the help of his wife, Dolores, and his two children, he wants to continue spreading cancer awareness for his community.
"If it wasn't for Dolores, I never would have made it. She's my rock," he said. "As long as I'm around, I want to give back to the people."