A GLASGOW man has told how he’s lucky to be alive - after a sore throat turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer.

Mark McDowell was initially treated by his GP with antibiotics, but when they didn’t work he was sent for further tests.

A tonsillectomy at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley discovered cancer in his left tonsil, caused by Human Papillomavirus.

Doctors initially told Mark that he had a good chance of recovery until a routine PET scan discovered the cancer had spread to his liver and was now stage four. Medics told the stunned 46-year-old he only had a one in five chance of pulling through.

Mark told the Glasgow Times:  "I had been living a healthy life, so my chances of recovery from tonsil cancer were good.

"That was until the scan showed things weren’t as positive as we first thought.

"The specialist’s face fell when they realised the cancer had spread to my liver, and I was told my chances of survival were now around 20 per cent.”

Mark, who lives in the West End of the city, was quickly referred to specialists in London and the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

He was treated with a complex combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and keyhole surgery and was in the Beatson for eight weeks, supported by a brilliant team of specialists. 

Thanks to their care, in April Mark plans to celebrate his fifth year cancer-free.

Glasgow Times:

The Head of IT Architecture at ScottishPower added: “I feel lucky to be alive as I’ve seen so many people lose their lives to this dreadful disease – family, friends and colleagues.

"Cancer can affect anyone, with nearly one in two people in the UK now diagnosed with it during their lifetime.

“It is a highly complex disease and in the past it was often a death sentence – that’s why fundraising for life-saving research is so important.

"The medical advances in radiotherapy, PET and keyhole surgery saved my life, but they’re things you don’t think about until you need them.”

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Mark’s employer is now determined to help save more lives and have reached a special £40million fundraising milestone for its long-standing charity partner Cancer Research UK.

The charity’s work on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.

Dr Claire Paterson is a clinical oncologist and radiotherapy researcher, partly funded by Cancer Research UK. In her role at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, she is working on ways to improve radiotherapy for patients with head and neck cancer like Mark’s.

She said: “We can target cancer far more precisely now, which makes treatment more effective and kinder for patients than it used to be decades ago. We hope that we can continue to make further improvements with more research.

“Mark’s story shows how painstaking research, conducted over many years, and advances in treatment can save lives. Cancer Research UK can only support large scale research programmes with generous donations and ScottishPower have raised a huge amount of money to support the charity’s vital mission.”

Ellie Cook, a marketing graduate at ScottishPower, is also getting a team together for Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life fundraising event at Glasgow Green in May.

She added: “Fundraising hits differently when it’s so close to home and that’s why I’m getting a 10K team together for Race for Life and challenging myself to train for it.

"This is something that affects us all. We’re raising money for lifesaving cancer research so family, friends and colleagues are all so happy to sponsor us.”

Andrew Ward, CEO of ScottishPower’s customer business, added: “Knowing the difference our partnership has made since it first began and how it has contributed to creating a world where people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer personally means so much to me.

"Both Mark and Ellie really bring the impact of the partnership alive through their own experiences and really show just how vital the funds being raised are."