A heartbroken Scots widow has told how her late husband’s louder-than-normal snoring was the only sign he was suffering from a deadly brain tumour.

Michael Mackay was diagnosed with the grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma after his wife Trish went upstairs to record him sleeping noisily in August 2020.

She immediately noticed that her 52-year-old hubby was actually having a seizure and called an ambulance, who rushed him to Caithness General Hospital in Wick.

Michael with Trish
(Image: Brain Tumour Research)

Medics performed an CT scan which picked up something untoward with the dad-of-two being ordered to undergo further tests.

The family’s world was shattered after results from a brain biopsy on October 5 revealed he had an aggressive brain cancer and had less than 12 months to live.

Michael, who worked for Highland Council, passed away with Trish and his two children, Leanne, 29, and Mark, 22, by his side on March 26.

His 50-year-old widow 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.

“I called an ambulance and when the paramedics arrived, they thought he was having a heart attack.

“They took him to Caithness General Hospital in Wick and I followed in the car. By the time I arrived, he seemed fine, which was a huge relief.

Michael with his children Leanne and Mark

“They did a CT scan of his brain and when the results came through, the doctor told us he was happy for Michael to go home.

“However, as we were about to leave, the doctor came back asking us to stay, as the team at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness had picked up something on the scan that they weren’t happy with.”

A follow up MRI came back inconclusive but doctors began to suspect that Michael may have been suffering from a brain tumour but further investigations were required.

His team of experts sent him for a brain biopsy in October before facing an agonising three weeks as they waited for the results.

Trish 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. He was obviously distraught but somehow he stayed strong, accepted his diagnosis and managed to sail through his first two rounds of chemo.

“He had a week off treatment for Christmas and we enjoyed a wonderful time together as a family.

Michael’s family are now raising vital funds for Brain Tumour Research
(Image: Brain Tumour Research)

“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 family faced further heartbreak as Trish’s mum, Catherine Macmillan, 75, passed away from Covid-19 on December 22.

The day after her funeral, Michael took a turn for the worse and lost his ability to speak.

Trish explained: “Up until then, Michael was doing OK. The day after the funeral, I went to the cemetery to see the flowers and video call my sister, who hadn’t been able to travel up from England, having tested positive for COVID herself.

“Michael had been having tremors in his arm when I left but by the time I got back, he’d lost the ability to speak. Leanne came over then Michael suffered a grand mal seizure.

“He was taken to hospital for monitoring and later that night he was discharged. As the days went on, he slowly returned to being my husband.

“But when he started his next round of chemo, it completely floored him. He was so ill, tired and irritable. It was like living with a completely different person.

“By the second week in February, he decided he didn’t want another scan or anymore chemo, as the treatment was having such a detrimental effect on his quality of live.”

Michael was put on end-of-life care and died six weeks later on Friday 26 March. He was at home, peaceful and surrounded by his loved ones.

Trish added: “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 the couple’s two children 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.

They plan to complete the last mile in fancy dress together before finishing at Thurso Cemetery where they will toast their loved one with his favourite drink – Glayva.

Trish added: “We’re blown away by the number of donations we’ve had already. We’ve raised an incredible £4,100 before we’ve even begun.

“We’re so proud of what we’re doing in Michael’s memory. We love and miss him every day and each step of our challenge will be done with him in our hearts.”

To donate to their fund, please click here.

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