Marine Corps Social Media Guru Films Cancer Battle in Video Series

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, 30, said the project to document his cancer journey on video came from a desire to better communicate with his wife, Erin, about what he was experiencing. (Photo courtesy Mark Fayloga)
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, 30, said the project to document his cancer journey on video came from a desire to better communicate with his wife, Erin, about what he was experiencing. (Photo courtesy Mark Fayloga)

When you cross an ugly diagnosis with a Marine Corps social media expert who has a salty sense of humor, expect the results to go viral.

Mark Fayloga, a staff sergeant in the Marines' individual mobilization augmentee reserves and the director of Digital Engagement for the Corps, announced his lymphoma diagnosis Monday in a six-minute YouTube video titled "F--- Cancer." Days later, the video has been seen more than 20,000 times and counting.

Fayloga, 30, said the project, planned to be a video series documenting his cancer journey, came from a desire to better communicate with his wife, Erin, about what he was experiencing.

"I started shooting it because I knew she's going to have a lot of questions, and I'm not the best at recapping the day," he told Military.com. "I figured, while I'm doing it, I might as well make a little video, too."

In the first installment, Fayloga discusses the difficulty of telling friends and family that he has cancer, describes the tests he has already undergone, and jokes about "milking" the situation to get out of chores and get the upper hand in board games. The tone is irreverent, even when discussing medical procedures and physical side effects of the illness.

"Early on, I found that dark humor is really helping me through this, and it's only going to get darker from here," Fayloga explains in the video.

The project resonated with viewers in unexpected numbers.

"The response has been pretty overwhelming. I didn't imagine those kinds of numbers at all," Fayloga said. "It was just something to do for family and friends, and I thought six months or a year down the road ... it might help some other people [with a similar diagnosis]."

While Fayloga doesn't gloss over the difficulties of what he's going through, he said his feelings were very matter-of-fact when he learned he had cancer.

"'Okay, this is something in my life, this is what the next steps are,'" he recalled.

He said his Marine Corps background played a part in his response to this new challenge.

"Beyond even just the deployment, which is definitely a more stressful environment, the Marine Corps as a whole prepares you for dealing with hard situations," he said. "You're expected to do what you're expected to do regardless of the environment or the support that you have. No excuse for not getting it done."

Fayloga said Wednesday he had received some optimistic news: He has Hodgkin's Lymphoma, the rarer form of the disease and the one that carries a better survivability rate. He won't know which stage the cancer is at until the results of more tests come back, he said.

He plans to release a second installment Jan. 5 that tackles a common question that follows a cancer diagnosis: "Why me?"

--Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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