Out of the Darkness of Cancer and Into the Light

Advocacy Groups | <b>American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE</b>

Out of the darkness there is sometimes light, and in South Florida, Dr. Mark Block is a beacon of hope and light for many patients who’ve recently received a diagnosis of cancer.

When you receive devastating health news, such as a stage 3 or 4 lung cancer diagnosis, hope isn’t always the first word that comes to mind. However, out of the darkness there is sometimes light, and in South Florida, Dr. Mark Block is a beacon of hope and light for many patients who’ve recently received a diagnosis of cancer.

As the chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery Program at Memorial Healthcare System in South Florida, Dr. Block dedicates his life to providing top-notch patient care, transparency and innovation to every patient treatment plan.

Dr. Block has practiced general thoracic surgery since completing his residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis in 1997. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Yale University and completed his general surgery residency at the University of Chicago.

Before coming to Memorial Healthcare System, Dr. Block practiced general thoracic surgery as an assistant professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, and then at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he was also the director of the Thoracic Oncology Working Group.

Dr. Block holds certifications from the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He has also published more than 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals and been an invited contributor to several authoritative textbooks on thoracic surgery.

Dr. Block is also very involved with numerous health organizations that are working to save lives and promote lung health, including the American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Surgeons, South Florida Chapter of the Florida Medical Association, Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, Association for Academic Surgery, General Thoracic Surgical Club, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, American Association of Immunologists, American Cancer Society, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American Association for the Advancement of Science and American Lung Association.

In fact, in 2015, Dr. Block joined the local leadership board of the American Lung Association in South Florida to further his impact on the lives touched by lung cancer. Since joining, he has used his platform as a board member and physician to raise local media outlets’ awareness of lung cancer on behalf of the American Lung Association. He is a strong proponent for early detection and lung cancer screening.

Empowering patients and caregivers with lifesaving knowledge and education is an additional focus of Dr. Block’s. He has served as a presenter and moderator for the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Expo for many years, helping to educate doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists about the newest treatments for lung cancer. He has also given numerous presentations to organizations like Gilda’s Club South Florida and the Cardiovascular Institute Symposium.

In 2018, he was honored with the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Distinguished Physician Award for outstanding patient care and exemplary dedication to raising the profile of lung cancer.

As Stacey Eisdorfer, a stage 3 lung cancer survivor and current patient of Dr. Block, puts it: He inspires courage and optimism in place of uncertainty and fear. “In 2019, when I was told I had a malignancy on my lower left lobe of my lung, I researched a thoracic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hospital. I was told that Dr. Block was the guy. On my first visit, within moments, he greeted me with a smile (and) gave me great news that we could operate and that there was no reason why I shouldn’t live a normal life,” Eisdorfer said. “He truly comforted me with his kind and informative manner. He was certain with my treatment plan I’d be OK. His words, confidence and calming presence brought me hope.

In that same meeting, he even had me chuckling alongside him and my best friend. In the months that followed, he allowed my family to be right by my side all the way. My surgery was a success, and I am now cancer free. Thank you, Dr. Block, for saving my life.”

Dr. Block has also inspired numerous patients with lung cancer to share their stories as LUNG FORCE Heroes in the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE campaign. By empowering and encouraging local heroes to engage in meaningful storytelling, he hopes to save countless more lives by sharing firsthand experiences and encouraging others to assess their own symptoms, signs and eligibility for early screening. He has provided a powerful voice to the LUNG FORCE campaign since 2018.

Local lung cancer survivors, like Bonnie Ulrich, credit Dr. Block with being an inspiration to their own advocacy work.

“After being lung cancer free for 13 years, in 2019, my cancer returned,” Ulrich said. “While I was undergoing my treatment, which consisted of six chemotherapy sessions, 30 radiations and a year of immunotherapy, I became more active in lung cancer advocacy and awareness. I have included Dr. Block and my cancer team at Memorial Cancer Institute in my advocacy work because, quite frankly, they were/are saving my life and they inspire me to share my story. I depend on this amazing team on a daily basis to get me through my journey. Dr. Mark Block and the staff at Memorial Cancer Institute go (above) and beyond the ‘basic protocol’ of treating patients. In my opinion, Dr. Block and the staff at Memorial Cancer Institute are No. 1. Dr. Block relates to his patients in a way to alleviate the fear, curiosity and loss of hope that a patient with lung cancer lives with. I am now and will be eternally grateful to Dr. Block and my team.”

In 2020, Dr. Block joined the regional leadership board for the American Lung Association to expand his service to this important cause and to advance the mission to create a world free of lung cancer and all lung disease.

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