Mark Pilgrim

Late radio presenter Mark Pilgrim has been praised for his fighting spirit.
Image via Instagram:

Fighting spirit: Mark Pilgrim overcame more than just cancer

Here are five times Mark Pilgrim overcome life’s setbacks, including rejection, divorce, poverty and even a heart attack…

Mark Pilgrim

Late radio presenter Mark Pilgrim has been praised for his fighting spirit.
Image via Instagram:

Mark Pilgrim has to be commended for his fighting spirit, even to his last breath. But the truth is that his whole life has prepared him to put on his best fight.

That’s because the beloved TV and radio star has been open and honest about the struggles in his life and how he overcame them.

Mark died on Sunday 5 March after retiring from his battle with stage four cancer. He was 53 years old.

ALSO READ: Mark Pilgrim’s bittersweet final interview: ‘I want to be well again’


Escaping poverty

Born in England, Mark Pilgrim relocated to South Africa at the tender age of nine years old. Mark’s website revealed that he grew up poor, having lived in a trailer during his childhood.

He told 702: “I’m white trailer trash. In England, I literally grew up in a trailer”.

He added: “I don’t need to earn millions. I just want to provide for my family… All I want on my tombstone is, ‘The best dad ever’”.

ALSO READ: By his side ’til the end: Mark’s fiancée offered love, support

REJECTED before becoming a radio legend

Before his award-winning career as a radio personality, Mark Pilgrim was on a much different career path as a consumer researcher. Having studied industrial psychology, Mark decided to pursue his dream of being on the airwaves instead.

And his dream has paid off – in 2021, Mark was inducted into the Radio Awards Hall of Fame for his stints at stations like 5FM, Highveld Stereo, KFM, and his home Hot 102.7 FM.

ALSO READ: ‘Fought valiantly to the end’: Hot 102.7 confirm Mark Pilgrim’s death

But before that could happen, Mark encountered several hurdles – like being rejected in job applications because of his “pronunciation.”

He told 702: “Even Pick n Pay turned me down as an in-store announcer. Which I’m grateful for [as it led me to other things].”

Overcoming health struggles

Mark Pilgrim’s cancer struggles are not the first time he has endured health woes. At the age of 18 years old, the radio star was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, which he overcame.

Twenty years later, he would survive a heart attack that left him with permanent internal damage.

Divorce and being a single dad

In 2020, Mark Pilgrim revealed that he and his wife, Nicole Torres divorced after 13 years of marriage. But Mark maintained that he would “always be friends and respect” his former partner.

Speaking to The South African previously, Mark revealed that he has a good co-parenting relationship with his ex. He is also a hands-on dad.

Mark is now also happily engaged to new partner Adrienne Watkins.

Not giving up

Mark Pilgrim has proved that pursuing your dreams is never too late. In 2020, he completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at a university in Edinborough.

He previously said about what keeps him going: “Fortunately, cancer pushed me to do what I loved doing.”