3-time Paralympian Mark Barr shares journey after losing leg to cancer.

Houston, Texas– Paralympian Mark Barr’s life has revolved around sport from the very beginning. He started swimming when he was four years old, then started playing soccer and baseball. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he developed debilitating knee pain and received a diagnosis he never saw coming.

“At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer,” Barr said.

He underwent almost a year of chemotherapy, but an MRI showed the tumor had spread too aggressively and amputation was the only option.

“Being in the operating room with my parents was the ultimate low point of the whole cancer experience,” Barr said.

After his amputation, it was a nurse in the recovery room who gave him hope and helped him realize that there is life after the amputation. She herself was an amputee and a Paralympic swimmer.

“I consider her an angel,” Barr said. “She was put there on purpose to help me get through this difficult time.”

Barr returned to the pool as soon as possible and qualified for the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games in Athens. That same year, he began college at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he competed on the swim team. At the 2006 World Para Athletic Championships, Barr placed second in the 100 fly. He also competed in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing before taking on a new training challenge for triathlons.

“I was hooked.” Barr said. “Swimming, cycling, running, mixing the disciplines. I love the challenge in it. It was something I thought, and ‘this is my new identity. I’m going to do a triathlon.” At that point, Barr had been an amputee for eight years and had never walked. He didn’t have a running prosthesis because many insurance companies don’t cover sports prostheses. The Challenged Athletes Foundation was the first group to help him get a running prosthesis. After getting a new running prosthesis, he learned to walk all over again.

Since 2015, Barr has worked with Team Catapult, a Houston-based nonprofit that raises funds for disabled athletes and helps them compete in endurance sports.

“Having other athletes out there with Team Catapult to guide you through this and teach you first-hand is invaluable,” said Barr, who has become a huge supporter of Team Catapult’s mission. He helps mentor new athletes within the group.

Barr returned to the US Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, competing as a para-triathlete for the first time. 2018 was the best year of his triathlon career. He went unbeaten on the World Paratriathlon Series circuit, including a win at the World Championships in Australia. Barr won a 2019 ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete with Disability.

His cancer journey also inspired him to attend nursing school.

“Nursing is something I’ve always wanted to do with my background as an amputee and my experience in cancer care,” Barr said.

He worked as a nurse in charge in the trauma intensive care unit for seven years before going back to school to become a board-certified nurse anesthetist. He recently graduated and will start a new job in the fall. Barr is currently recovering from a torn meniscus injury but hopes to return to racing soon and qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

https://6abc.com/mark-barr-paralympian-triathlon-team-catapult/12130961/ 3-time Paralympian Mark Barr shares journey after losing leg to cancer.

Alley Einstein

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