‘Our brave dad’s headache was so bad he had to go to hospital – now he’s fighting to stay alive’

By Staff 7 Min Read

Mark Downey, 44, first complained of a headache last September, but knew something wasn’t quite right – he went to hospital, before scans quickly revealed he had a grade four glioblastoma, a fast-growing cancerous tumour

A ‘brave’ dad who first went to the doctor because of a bad headache is now in a big fight to stay alive after finding out he has a very serious brain tumour.

Mark Downey, 44, from Bolton, started having headaches last September and felt something was wrong. He went to the hospital, and scans soon showed he had a grade four glioblastoma, which is a very fast-growing cancerous tumour. His mum Eileen said it all happened so quickly and turned their lives upside down. Mark, a dad of three, had to go through surgery and lots of tough chemo and radiation therapy.

Even after dangerous surgeries to take out the tumour, tests showed that the tumour’s genetics meant it might not get better with chemo and radiotherapy.- Now, seven months later, with doctors saying he might only have between 12 and 14 months to live, his family wants to raise money for him to get special treatment abroad that could save his life.

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“He has been so brave and amazing given the fact that we don’t know what’s in store for him,” Eileen told the Manchester Evening News. “We haven’t been given a lot of information or told what to expect when he finishes this course of chemotherapy. He’s been through so much treatment and we have still got no future at the moment. It all happened very suddenly; he had a severe headache and knew it was different. He was otherwise very fit and healthy – it came out of the blue. From there he had a scan and it all happened so quickly. But Mark knew by the severity of the headache, that something wasn’t right. Had he dismissed it, it could have been so much worse.”

Mark, a HGV driver, faced a big operation in October to take out the tumour from his brain. Since then, he’s been having treatments like radiation every day for six weeks and taking chemo drugs. Because there aren’t many treatments for the kind of tumour Mark has, his family and friends are trying to raise money to help him get special treatments from other countries, like Car T-Cell therapy. The latest MRI scan showed Mark’s tumour is 1.4cm big, which means the radiotherapy and chemotherapy haven’t worked. His family is worried that they don’t have much time left. They want to get more money and make more people know about this illness and how the UK needs more clinical trials for glioblastoma.

Mark has lost his hair and feels very tired because of the tough treatments, but his mum says he’s still strong inside. His sister Steph said: “It’s almost like getting shut down at every turn. Like the only way we can make noise is by putting a GoFundMe page together. We are already seven months into the 12-14 month life expectancy he was given. He has had 35 sessions of radiotherapy and is on his third cycle of chemotherapy but it isn’t working.” His mum Eileen said: “You can’t come to terms with it; especially when we don’t know what the next course of treatment will be.”

On their fundraising page, she wrote: “Mark is a very private person but the most brave soul, who dreams of any extra time he can have with his family. Mark’s greatest desire is to watch his son graduate High school; he dreams of the day he can share in the joy of prom night, standing tall like any father should. Time is just not in his favour right now. His spirit remains unbroken. As a parent it is heart-wrenching to witness your child endure such a battle, and we are reaching out to our community for support.”

People can give money on the GoFundMe fundraiser page online

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