Defying Odds and Setting Records
Mark Barr’s fledgling sports career took a major detour when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, at age 14. When chemotherapy failed to shrink the tumor on his right knee, Mark’s doctors recommended amputating the leg above the knee to prevent the cancer from spreading.
Happily, the surgery – performed at UCSF – was a success. Mark then worked with Walter Racette in the Division of Orthotics and Prosthetics to learn how to use his new prosthetic leg. Even with the successful surgery and prosthetic leg, Mark was unable to play baseball and soccer at the competitive level to which he was accustomed. He returned, instead, to swimming. Mark had shown great promise as a swimmer early on. During his post-operative recovery at UCSF, he met a nurse in the hospital who was also an amputee and a swimmer. She introduced him to the Paralympics.
Mark went on to join the varsity swim team in high school and competed in his first Paralympics meet in 2003. He represented the United States in the Paralympics in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), setting records along the way. He is finishing his senior year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he competes as a Division I swimmer. Based on his exceptional experiences at UCSF, where he met “incredible people,” Mark’s goal is to become a nurse-practitioner.
Not only did Mark Barr beat cancer, but he also beat the odds on what he could accomplish as an athlete with just one leg. His can-do attitude and determination are mirrored by the scientists and researchers in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, where everyday, our team strives to improve the lives of people like Mark, so that they may realize their dreams. We are honored to have Mark Barr join us on October 1 for the grand opening of the Orthopaedic Institute