Scottish woman whose husband died of brain tumour says snoring was his only symptom

The family of a Thurso man who died of a brain tumour within months of his diagnosis during the pandemic has launched a fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research.

Michael Mackay who worked for Highland Council, was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in August last year after his wife Trish noticed he was snoring louder than usual.

Ms Mackay, 50, called an ambulance after realising her husband was in fact having a seizure. After a series of tests, Mr Mackay was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour.

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“I’d got up early one Sunday morning and couldn’t believe how loud Michael’s snoring was,” said Ms Mackay.

Trish and Michael Mackay
Trish and Michael Mackay
Trish and Michael Mackay

"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.”

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Mr Mackay was seen by doctors at Caithness General Hospital and then by consultants at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

He was finally diagnosed with grade three anaplastic astrocytoma after a biopsy in October.

Michael Mackay with children Leanne and Mark.
Michael Mackay with children Leanne and Mark.
Michael Mackay with children Leanne and Mark.

“Before we got the diagnosis, I’d Googled a lot to find out about the different types of brain tumours,” said Ms Mackay.

"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.

“Michael 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. Our daughter Leanne got engaged on Christmas Day.

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"It was lovely, but there was an underlying sadness as we knew this could be our last Christmas with Michael.”

By mid February Mr Mackay’s condition had worsened, and he made the decision not to have any more scans or chemotherapy.

He was put on end-of-life care and died six weeks later on March 26, at home with loved ones.

Ms Mackay and children Leanne and Mark are now raising money for Brain Tumour Research by jogging 26 miles in May.

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