A Hartlepool dad says he has been given a second chance after a dream holiday to America turned into a nightmare when it was discovered he had a life-threatening brain tumour.
Mark Weatherill flew out to New York with his wife and 11-year-old son to celebrate his 50th birthday and tenth wedding anniversary.
But Mark fell ill on the plane and was rushed to hospital immediately on landing.
Tests revealed he had a brain tumour the size of a satsuma and underwent an operation to remove it.
Friends back home donated over £6,500 to fly Mark’s mam Doreen Hunter out to be by the family’s side after Hartlepool charities Miles For Men and Walk For Women set up a fundraisnig webpage.
Mark, who is now back at home recovering, is urging anyone who experiences similar symptoms to him to get it checked out.
I feel like I have been given a second chance because I could easily have not survived itMark Weatherill
He had been having headaches for a couple of week’s before getting on the seven hour flight from Manchester on October 23 but was told it was not anything serious.
Mark, who works at Tata Steel in Hartlepool, said: “I went from the plane straight to hospital. It was basically holiday over from within hours.
“They told us the news that I had a brain tumour and it was bleeding, it was quite aggressive.
“The surgeon said the tumour would have got us if I hadn’t got it removed.
“It is a scary thought that something that big can be in your head.”
Mark, a former boxer was warned he may not be able to speak or move the right side of his body after the operation.
But luckily he came through the operation well.
“My family waited and waited and when the operation was over they were allowed to see me,” he said.
“And unbelievably I was sitting up and recognised them all. My son ran in and gave me a hug.”
Mark’s 21-year-old daughter Sophie Weatherill flew out to support his wife and son.
And it was a huge boost to see his mum Doreen Hunter thanks to money raised back home.
Family friend Jo Green approached Miles For Men to fly Mrs Hunter out and the charity quickly set up a fundraising page. It reached its target in less than 24 hours as friends and work colleagues gave generously.
Mark added: “People just put in thousands, unbelievable. It was so much comfort having my mum and sister for them few days to help us both come to terms with it all.
“It was good to see them, thanks to the Hartlepool people who donated and Miles For Men for funding the money.
“The support was brilliant. We were very grateful.”
Stephen Picton of Miles For Men and Walk For Women said: “Miles For Men and Walk For Women where contacted by Joan Green to help her friend’s son.
“Within minutes we had a crowdfunding page up and the money rolled in for a well respected man of the town.”
Mark plans to take part in next year’s Miles For Men run to say thanks.
He says he now faces a hard battle to recover fully including having six weeks of radiotherapy and up to six months of chemotherapy but is staying positive.
He said: “I feel like I have been given a second chance because I could easily have not survived it.
“I feel I am getting better day by day.”
And he is urging anyone who experiences similar symptoms to seek medical help as soon as possible.
“I had been ill for a couple of weeks before I went away with what I thought was migraines.
“You have definitely got to push and push and be more forceful and assertive. Anything like dizzy spells, constant headaches, blurred vision.
“If I hadn’t have gone to America the thought is it could have been a lot worse.”