Morecambe dad's Â£45K mission to fight MS
Mark Fitchett was 38 years old when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
The dad-of-two from Morecambe had been experiencing symptoms for some time.
He had a weakness down his left hand side, dizziness and balance problems, he struggled to walk properly and his speech slowly began to deteriorate.
Three years later, Mark’s speech is very slurred and he can’t go for days out without regularly stopping to rest.
But there is hope for Mark and his family in the shape of revolutionary treatment overseas.
Now the former driving instructor is trying to raise £45,000 so he can have the treatment – just so he can play football with his kids again.
Former Heysham High School pupil Mark, 41, first noticed something was wrong when he began to suffer from extreme tiredness.
“I used to go to the gym but my energy levels were so low, the weights I used to be able to lift just reduced and reduced,” he said.
“I’d go on the exercise bike for less and less time as I didn’t have the energy that I seemed to have just weeks before and when I staggered to the changing room, my vision would go.
“I couldn’t focus on anything and a mist seemed to descend over my eyes.”
Mark stopped work because of a separate back problem and then was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, meaning he had to quit his job altogether.
MS is a condition of the central nervous system where the coating around nerve fibres is damaged, causing a range of symptoms.
Mark had already suspected he might have MS because family members also had the condition.
But it still came as a shock to him and his wife Emma.
His symptoms will continue to get gradually worse and there are no drugs he can take to manage them.
Emma said she was “knocked for six” when the diagnosis came.
But the Fitchetts hope the treatment Mark found on the internet can make a difference.
“I stumbled across a group on Facebook for HSCT – Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation,” said Mark.
“Basically what this treatment entails is harvesting my stem cells, then destroying my immune system with chemotherapy. Then you put my stem cells back in.
“So then it’s like a computer reboot to a time before my MS. I have to go abroad though to either Russia or Mexico where this treatment is a lot more common and it’s expensive.”
In the meantime Mark is keeping as active as he can. He plays snooker once a week, has tried his hand at film scriptwriting and hopes to write an online blog.
Emma, who will soon do an 80 mile bike ride to raise money for the cause, said: “All he wants to do is get his life back to normal, to be able to play football with the kids, the simple things that people take for granted.”
To donate to ‘Mark’s MS Annihilation Mission’ go to his fundraising website HERE
A fundraising event for Mark will be held at Bare Village Club on January 28.