Only two weeks into November, and already Highgate Hill resident Mark Briggs has raised $4550 towards the Movember Foundation – only $450 off his overall target.

Marks was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago, and faced a prostatectomy only six weeks following the diagnosis. Acting upon the doctor’s recommendation to shed some kilos prior the surgery, he dropped into Dundee’s Boxing & Fitness Gym – a building perched on Montague Road that caught his eye during his daily drive to and from work.

Gym owner Dundee Kim recalls Mark’s arrival, describing him as anxious, quiet, and often found sitting at the exercise bike, sight set on the window in front of him. “I told him, he had to train morning and evening,” Dundee explains. “I told him, he had to improve his diet. I told him, he had to push himself.”

Ten kilos soon slipped from Mark like silk, and he approached his operation with an entirely new body that carried an entirely new mindset, as well. Following a six month-long recovery period, and after receiving the all-clear of cancer from his doctor, he returned and regarded the gym as an old friend, ready and raring for his regular dose of endorphins.

“Dundee’s Gym is one without bells and whistles,” Mark says. “It encompasses a very eclectic mix of people, from all sorts of professions, of all shapes and sizes, of all ages. The trainers respect you – they taper and tamper your exercises around your disability, or your illness.”

The fitness hub is locally renowned for its focus on improving both the body and mind of individuals of all backgrounds and capabilities. Children with autism, cerebral palsy, and Asperger’s train amongst the mother’s, lawyers, doctors and accountants, who use the gym to relieve the strain of their stressful working environment.

“I say to the trainers, ‘make sure you’re training with your heart’,” Dundee smiles. “Skill, you can only achieve a certain limit. But if you’re training with a combination of skill and the heart, you can truly achieve anything.”

Besides consistently striving to improve his health and fitness, Mark is now also focussed on raising more awareness for prostate cancer. “The disease kills far more men than people actually realise. And that’s mainly out of ignorance – men tend to put their heads in the sand, or falsely assume that it’s an ‘old man’s disease’,” he explains. “When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I asked the doctor what would happen if I decided to ignore it altogether. Today, I’ve had the surgery, recovered and regained a lifestyle with positive outcomes. And I’d suspect I’m a better person as a result of the journey.”

Mark has raised an impressive total of $9,283 for the Movember Foundation since his diagnosis in 2013. To help his reach his fundraising goal of $5000, visit the website:

Banner image: Dundee Kim and Mark Briggs