When Opportunity Knocks C T ommitted to a fit and active lifestyle, Mark Cicon says he was a picture of health when he started a new position as a technology recruiter for a banking firm in September 2009. Working 15 hour days sometimes to ac- commodate West Coast clients, the extended schedule chipped away at his ability to keep up with the gym and a decent night’s sleep. When he felt continued bone pain and chronic fatigue a year later he chalked it up to the demands of the job, but his boss at the time took him aside and let Cicon know he really didn’t seem like himself lately. Soon after, a simple fall set off a chain of events that quickly led to the realization for the 42-year old Cicon that he had a rare form of leukemia. he fall on his back resulted in a compression fracture in his spine, but he didSuspecting something else, Cicon’s doctor sent the scans to an oncologist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton. Given the nature of the images, it was thought at first that Cicon was involved in a car accident, but further tests revealed he had a blood cancer known as plasma cell leukemia. He immediately was referred to Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. n’t know it at the time and was treated for inflammation and pain after touching base with his primary care physician. Surprisingly, it was a simple sneeze a week later that sent Cicon to the hospital with a lower vertebra fracture. Another sneeze shortly after broke a rib. Various X-rays were taken and clearly showed the fractures — but nothing more. BY MIC HELE FISHER 8 Cancer Connection Autumn 2016 I PORTRAITS BY NICK ROMANENKO I I