A devastated mum has told how her husband died from a brain tumour months after discovering his loud snoring was a warning sign of the disease.
Michael Mackay, who worked for Highland Council, was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in August 2020, after his wife Trish noticed he was snoring louder than usual.
Mrs Mackay, 50, said: “I’d got up early one Sunday morning and couldn’t believe how loud Michael’s snoring was. He was upstairs in bed and I was downstairs.
“I grabbed my phone and went up to video him, so I could show him later on. It was only when I approached that I realised he was actually having a seizure.”
She said she had noticed her husband’s snoring worsening over a number of weeks but never imagined it would be related to a brain tumour.
Mrs Mackay called an ambulance to the couple’s home in Thurso.
Paramedics took Mr Mackay to Caithness General Hospital in Wick where he underwent a CT scan of his brain. After receiving the results, another scan was scheduled in Inverness, but the results were inconclusive.
After more scans and meetings, at the end of September, Mr Mackay saw consultant neurosurgeon Peter Bodkin at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and on October 5, he went in for a brain biopsy – the only way to determine what was going on.
After an agonising three-week wait, they received the results: Mr Mackay had grade-three anaplastic astrocytoma, giving him only months to live.
Mrs Mackay said: “Before we got the diagnosis, I’d googled a lot to find out about the different types of brain tumours.
“I immediately knew this wasn’t good news but that was confirmed when we were told the prognosis was a devastatingly short three to 12 months. Due to its location on the brain, Michael’s tumour was inoperable.”
Mr Mackay began chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumour. He was strong through his first two rounds but tragedy struck when Mrs Mackay lost her 75-year-old mum to Covid-19 just before Christmas.
Despite the awful circumstances, the family made the most of the time they had.
Mrs Mackay said: “[Michael] had a week off treatment for Christmas and we enjoyed a wonderful time together as a family.
“Our daughter Leanne got engaged on Christmas Day. It was lovely but there was an underlying sadness, as we knew this could be our last Christmas with Michael.”
The day after his mother-in-law’s funeral, Mr Mackay took a turn for the worse. He lost the ability to speak and then suffered a grand mal seizure. Although he recovered, the next round of chemo floored him and by mid-February he had decided not to undergo further rounds or more scans.
He was put on end-of-life care and died six weeks later on Friday, March 26. He was at home, peaceful and surrounded by his loved ones.
His wife said: “I take great comfort from the fact that Michael wasn’t in pain at the end. It’s been hard to process everything though, especially in the context of the terrible year we’ve had with Covid.
“Before Michael became unwell, my 50th birthday and 25th wedding anniversary plans were ruined, due to lockdown. Just like my mum’s funeral, Michael’s had to be scaled back as well. It has truly been the worst year imaginable.”
Motivated by their tragic loss, Trish and her children, Leanne, 29, and Mark, 22, are joining thousands of other fundraisers around the country by taking part in Jog 26 Miles in May to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.
The miles can be completed however and with whoever participants like, ensuring they follow Covid-19 safety guidelines.
To join the Mackays by signing up to take part, please join the Jog 26 Miles in May Facebook Group and follow the three simple steps to get started.
Once registered, Brain Tumour Research will send you a free gift and printed mile tracker. If you raise £274 or more, you’ll receive a special medal in June, once you’ve completed your challenge.
To donate to Brain Tumour Research through the Mackays’ fundraiser visit here.