Mark Andrew Cavanaugh, 27, beloved son, brother and fiance, passed away Tuesday morning, Nov. 12, 2013, after a long battle with aplastic anemia.
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Mark is survived by his parents, Jim and Ann Cavanaugh; his four brothers, Jim, Matt, Kevin and Michael; his sister, Bridget Simmons; his fiance, Stephanie Castellano; his sisters-in-law, Jordan, Janet and Carolina; and his brother-in-law, David Simmons.
Mark was born and raised in Austin. He is a 2004 graduate of Austin High School. While in high school, Mark was an honorary mention all-state quarterback and member of the National Honor Society. After high school, he matriculated to the University of Pennsylvania to pursue undergraduate studies in nursing. At the University of Pennsylvania, Mark played running back for the Quakers. In June 2008, Mark graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded the Hillman scholarship in nursing, a privilege awarded to the top students in the nursing class. After graduation, Mark was pursuing post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania when he fell ill.
Mark had a legendary work ethic and approached all his endeavors with an all or nothing attitude. Mark's quest for excellence started early on at Southgate Elementary (perfect speller and sit-up record still stands) and continued throughout his academic life at Austin High and the University of Pennsylvania. For Mark, it was never about achieving perfect grades or earning accolades; instead, his goal was always to maximize his full potential and draw out the potential of others. He lived to serve others, and perhaps the toughest part of his five-year battle with sickness was not being able to move forward with his career goals.
Above all else, he cherished his family, friends and beloved Stephanie. Mark fought his illness with the same tenacity, humor and grace that he lived his life. A week before Mark's death, his doctors feared he had only hours to live. He continued to fight courageously for the next seven days to spend the last hours of his life surrounded by his family.
The family would like to thank the amazing staff at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic from doctors and physical therapists to those that changed his linens. In particular, Mark shared a special bond with Dr. John M. Davis III at the Mayo Clinic who over the course of five years never wavered in his effort to comfort, care and find a cure. Additionally, Dr. Svetomir N. Markovic at the Mayo Clinic fought for Mark and was always quick to lift his spirits with humor and unadulterated honesty. Both doctors treated Mark as a friend and equal, and the Cavanaugh family will always be in their debt. Mark was a nurse and his day-to-day comfort was due in large part to the absolutely amazing nurses that always showed compassion and became intimately involved in not only his medical care but also his personal life and our family's life.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Austin, with Father Paul Nelson and Father James Steffes officiating.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at Worlein Funeral Home in Austin, with a rosary service beginning at 4 p.m., and for one hour prior to the service at the church on Monday. Interment will be in Holy Spirit Catholic Cemetery, John's Island, S.C.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program. Checks can be made payable to: The BMT Program Greatest Need Fund (6603), University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, MMC 803, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.
Condolences may be expressed to the family online at worlein.com.
Worlein Funeral Home
1801 4Th St Nw Austin, MN 55912
Published in The Post-Bulletin on Nov. 14, 2013