A DAD who put his headaches down to not being able to handle his gin then learned the reality was far worse.
Mark Brandish, from Caergwrie, Flintshire, in north east Wales, thought the pain he was suffering last April was nothing more than not being able to take his drink anymore.
But his condition worsened and in early June 2021, the 52-year-old was diagnosed with glioblastoma – an aggressive form of cancer.
Mark’s friends and family have gathered round to help raise funds for charity.
His wife, Felicity, has also spoken out about how their lives have been turned upside down.
Felicity told the Daily Post: “Literally a month before his diagnosis, Mark was running up a really steep local hill and telling me how he was as fit as a 22-year-old according to his watch.
“He’s always been quite active so it’s unbelievable that within the space of a month he went downhill so rapidly.
“He started with a headache on a Saturday in April. We both just laughed it off as him getting on a bit and not being able to handle his gin anymore. He still had the headache which lasted all of the following week.”
Mark had hoped the problem would just fix itself over time and when he went for his Covid-19 vaccine it was suggested he may be suffering with a migraine.
However, more worrying signs started to appear.
Felicity said that he started going through “personality changes” and doing things that were “out of character”.
The mum-of-three added: “One night he stayed up until 4am on his PlayStation. That’s not normal behavior as, by 11pm we’re usually knackered and off to bed.”
She reached breaking point with her concerns when her husband sometimes stopped talking mid-sentence.
Felicity said: “We called the doctors and were told we’d be given a call back on Tuesday after the May bank holiday weekend. I just remember that seeming like a lifetime away so I called the 111 service on the Sunday who told us to go straight into A&E.
“We were there for seven hours before getting a CT scan that did reveal there was a tumor there. It was his daughter’s 13th birthday when we were told there and then at the Walton they believed it would come back as glioblastoma but had to wait on a biopsy.”
Felicity described it has “the scariest time” of her life.
In the following months, Mark underwent a course of radiotherapy and is currently receiving chemotherapy.
Now the family are fundraising to help research find a cure for the disease.
The couple had been keen runners for years and were due to take part in the upcoming Chester Half Marathon later this month.
What is glioblastoma?
Glioblastoma is the most common high grade cancerous primary brain tumor in adults.
The cancer begins in the brain and almost never spreads to other parts of the body. However, it’s complexity makes it difficult to treat.
It is also resistant to treatment, as the cells within the tumor are not all of the same type.
There are no known causes of glioblastoma, as is the case with most brain tumors, therefore, there is no clear way to prevent the disease.
What are the symptoms of glioblastoma?
The symptoms can initially be quite non-specific. The brain controls so many different functions that the symptoms someone experiences will depend partly on where the tumor is.
The symptoms can get worse very quickly, sometimes progressing to unconsciousness.
Brain Tumor Research says tumors increase pressure in the skull, causing headaches.
Other symptoms to look for are:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance
- Mood swings
- Problems speaking
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Impaired vision
Due to Mark’s condition, the pair initially put the event to the back of their minds but just after Christmas he suggested that she could push him round the 13 mile course.
While she said she wouldn’t be able to manage that they decided to get a team together to make it happen.
Felicity, along with pals Jamie and Kelly Mapp-Jones, Nick Tyson, Sam Tyson, Gareth Jones, Tim Guy, Rhys Parry, Andrew Mackie, Alex Stockton, Donna Welsh and Claire Williams – will now carry out his wish.
The team all have links to Coleg Cambria, where the couple both work in managerial roles.
Felicity added that while most of the team had run the course before, some hadn’t and they had managed to have one practice so their fingers were crossed they could pull it off when the time came.
She described those taking part as an “incredible team” who had been a great support over the past few weeks.
So far, they have raised more than £4,200 for The Brain Tumor Charity.
Anyone wanting to support can make a donation on their JustGiving page here.