Father-of-two, 52, dies five months after his unusually loud snoring was diagnosed as brain tumour 

A father-of-two died five months after his unusually loud snoring turned out to be a symptom of a brain tumour. 

Michael Mackay, 52, died on March 26 after being diagnosed with an inoperable tumour in October.

His widow, Trish Mackay, 50, told how she could hear Mr Mackay’s snoring from downstairs in their house in Thurso, Caithness.

When she went up to see him she realised he was having a seizure. 

Mrs Mackay called an ambulance and her husband was rushed to Caithness General Hospital in Wick.

The family then spent an agonising few months waiting for tests to be carried out – but all turned out to be inconclusive.

Michael Mackay, 52, died on March 26 after being diagnosed with an inoperable tumour in October

Michael Mackay, 52, died on March 26 after being diagnosed with an inoperable tumour in October

Michael Mackay, 52, died on March 26 after being diagnosed with an inoperable tumour in October

His widow, Trish Mackay, 50 (pictured together), told how she could hear Mr Mackay's snoring from downstairs in their house in Thurso, Caithness

His widow, Trish Mackay, 50 (pictured together), told how she could hear Mr Mackay's snoring from downstairs in their house in Thurso, Caithness

His widow, Trish Mackay, 50 (pictured together), told how she could hear Mr Mackay’s snoring from downstairs in their house in Thurso, Caithness

That was until late October, when a biopsy showed a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma.

Mr Mackay – who had no symptoms apart from loud snoring – was treated with chemotherapy in December in a bid to shrink it.

It meant he was able to see his daughter Leanne, 29, get engaged on Christmas Day.

But the treatment made him so irritable and tired that Mr Mackay decided it was detrimental to his quality of life and began palliative care in February. 

Mrs Mackay – who lost her mother to coronavirus just before Christmas after months of not seeing her due to travel restrictions – described 2020 as ‘the worst year imaginable’.

She said: ‘I take great comfort from the fact that Michael wasn’t in pain at the end.

When she went up to see him she realised he was having a seizure. Mrs Mackay (pictured with her husband) called an ambulance and her husband was rushed to Caithness General Hospital in Wick

When she went up to see him she realised he was having a seizure. Mrs Mackay (pictured with her husband) called an ambulance and her husband was rushed to Caithness General Hospital in Wick

When she went up to see him she realised he was having a seizure. Mrs Mackay (pictured with her husband) called an ambulance and her husband was rushed to Caithness General Hospital in Wick

Mr Mackay - who had no symptoms apart from loud snoring - was treated with chemotherapy in December in a bid to shrink it. It meant he was able to see his daughter Leanne, 29, (pictured with her father and brother Mark) get engaged on Christmas Day

Mr Mackay - who had no symptoms apart from loud snoring - was treated with chemotherapy in December in a bid to shrink it. It meant he was able to see his daughter Leanne, 29, (pictured with her father and brother Mark) get engaged on Christmas Day

Mr Mackay – who had no symptoms apart from loud snoring – was treated with chemotherapy in December in a bid to shrink it. It meant he was able to see his daughter Leanne, 29, (pictured with her father and brother Mark) get engaged on Christmas Day

‘It’s been hard to process everything though, especially in the context of the terrible year we’ve had with Covid.’

The couple had planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary last year, but plans were ruined due to lockdown. 

Mrs Mackay – who works as a travel consultant – said her husband was bounced between different hospitals in a bid to establish what was causing the loud snoring.

She 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.

Mrs Mackay (pictured with her husband) - who lost her mother to coronavirus just before Christmas after months of not seeing her due to travel restrictions - described 2020 as 'the worst year imaginable'

Mrs Mackay (pictured with her husband) - who lost her mother to coronavirus just before Christmas after months of not seeing her due to travel restrictions - described 2020 as 'the worst year imaginable'

Mrs Mackay (pictured with her husband) – who lost her mother to coronavirus just before Christmas after months of not seeing her due to travel restrictions – described 2020 as ‘the worst year imaginable’

‘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.

‘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.

‘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.’

The possibility of a brain tumour was mentioned for the first time at a MRI scan in Inverness on August 16.

At the end of September, Michael – who worked for Highland Council – saw a consultant neurosurgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

He went for a brain biopsy on October 5 as a specialist decided that was the only way to determine what was going on.

Three weeks later the family received the devastating diagnosis that, due to its location, the tumour was inoperable.

Mrs Mackay said: ‘Michael was obviously distraught but somehow he stayed strong, accepted his diagnosis and managed to sail through his first two rounds of chemo.

Chemotherapy made Mr Mackay (pictured with his son Mark) so irritable and tired that he decided it was detrimental to his quality of life and began palliative care in February

Chemotherapy made Mr Mackay (pictured with his son Mark) so irritable and tired that he decided it was detrimental to his quality of life and began palliative care in February

Chemotherapy made Mr Mackay (pictured with his son Mark) so irritable and tired that he decided it was detrimental to his quality of life and began palliative care in February

‘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.’

Only three days before Christmas, Mrs Mackay lost her mum, Catherine Macmillan, 75, to Covid.

The day after her funeral, on January 13, Michael had a massive seizure.

Mrs Mackay said: ‘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.’

The family have so far raised more than £4,000 for Brain Tumour Research.

Trish added: ‘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.’

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