Toomey approaches leukemia with same must-win attitude he has in baseball

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

There are a lot of competitive guys in the local adult baseball leagues.

Then there’s Mark Toomey, the longtime player and current manager of the East Prospect Pistons of the Susquehanna League.

Toomey, who has skippered the Pistons to five straight league crowns, simply hates to lose.

That must-win attitude came in handy when Toomey was given some shocking news last fall.

“Back in mid-October I thought I had COVID,” Toomey said. “But it ended up that I had leukemia.”

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Leukemia is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.

Having cancer is not something that Toomey ever imagined  until the diagnosis sent shockwaves through him and his family, as well as the East Prospect community.

Grueling process: Even with all the advanced medical tools in use today, Toomey went through a grueling process before he was deemed to be clear of the disease last month.

“I went through four rounds of chemo,” Toomey said. “I’ve been down at Johns Hopkins every other day for the past nine months. They were doing blood transfusions every other day.”

The fight couldn’t take away Toomey’s passion for winning — or his sense of humor.

“That’s a lot of driving,” he said with a chuckle of his numerous treks to Baltimore.

Toomey thanked everyone who had supported him during his battle, including the guys on the East Prospect team that he loves so much to be around.

“My guys are just awesome,” he said. “And that’s the same even when I’m healthy. Ryky (Smith) took over the team, and I have veteran guys like Mark (Schauren) and Dalton Renn that provided leadership. I couldn’t have done it without them, to be honest with you.”

Positive outlook: Toomey's 30-plus years of playing and managing really helped him to keep a good mindset during even the darkest times of his cancer treatment.

“Yeah, I tried to stay positive,” he said. “I hate to lose. And anyone that knows me can tell you that. I hate losing, and I just felt that I wasn’t going to lose this battle from the get-go.”

Toomey also tipped his hat, so to speak, to the doctors who helped him along his journey.

“I had the medical staff that I had at Johns Hopkins, and the doctor that is charge of the oncology department is my personal doctor,” Toomey said. “I’m just really fortunate to have all these good people doing stuff for me.”