Home » Dad died after loud snoring turned out to be tragic brain tumour symptom
Dad died after loud snoring turned out to be tragic brain tumour symptom
May 4, 2021
A dad-of-two's louder-than-normal snoring was the only sign he was suffering from a deadly brain tumour that gave him less than a year to live, his heartbroken wife said.
Michael Mackay, 52, was diagnosed with grade three anaplastic astrocytoma after his wife Trish went upstairs to record him sleeping noisily in August 2020.
She found her hubby was actually having a seizure and he was rushed by ambulance to the Caithness General Hospital in Wick in the Scottish Highlands.
Medics performed a CT scan which raised concerns and further tests were ordered to be carried out leading to devastating news for the family. A brain biopsy on October 5 revealed an aggressive brain cancer that gave him 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.
"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," said Trish 50.
"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 went on: "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."
She added: "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."
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A follow-up MRI came back inconclusive but doctors began to suspect that Michael may have been suffering from a brain tumour and he was sent back for a brain biopsy.
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.
"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.
A 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 life."
Michael was put on end-of-life care and died six weeks later at home 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.