Mark and Terri-Louise Farren still don’t know if treatment Mark recently received at a private clinic in Mexico has been a success.
The couple recently returned to their home in Moville after spending four weeks at a specialist clinic in Tijuana in Northern Mexico where Mark endured intensive treatment for his grade four brain tumour.
“We have no way of knowing if the treatment has been successful yet,” said Mark’s wife, Terri-Louise.
“It’s a culmination of so many things and we will not really know if the treatment is a success until we go back out to Mexico again.”
Thirty-three year-old Derry City legend, Mark, was diagnosed with a grade four brain tumour earlier this year and after exhausting medical options at home Mark and Terri-Louise decided their only choice was to travel to Mexico where Mark could receive treatment not available in Ireland and Europe. Mark’s latest diagnosis was the third time in six years that he had received a brain tumour diagnosis.
Immediately, the couple hit a stumbling block. It was going to cost tens of thousands of pounds to send Mark and Terri-Louise to Mexico but thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people all over Ireland and England the couple raised the money and made the 5,625 mile round-trip at the end of May.
“We owe a lot of thanks to all of the people who donated money and helped us get to Mexico,” said Terri-Louise.
“Martin McGuinness was of great support - he put us in touch with the Irish Embassy in New York. Jim Roddy [City Centre Initiative and former Derry City F.C. Chief Executive] put us in touch with the Irish Embassy in Mexico - we didn’t have to wait for anything,” she added.
A few days after setting out from Derry, Mark, Terri-Louise and nutritionist, Sinead Kelly, arrived in Tijuana. Mark, Terri-Louise and Sinead were not permitted to leave the clinic during their time there because their safety could not be guaranteed.
Mark’s treatment ran from Monday to Saturday, starting everyday at 8am and stopping at 5pm.
We just have to keep on doing what we are doing and hope for the best - hopefully there’s happy ending to all of this Terri-Louise FarrenTerri-Louise Farren
“God love Mark, the treatment was so intense and left him exhausted. The treatment was relentless. One technique they used involved putting Mark inside a chamber where they would heat his body to such a temperature that he would have to be unconscious to endure it. Mark was also having to follow a strict vegan diet and he also received ozone therapy.”
Mark’s treatment is not over. The couple are hoping to return to the clinic at the end of August or the start of September when Mark will receive a dendritic vaccine.
A dendritic vaccine is designed to boost the immune system and hopefully help the human body to cure itself of cancer but Mark is unable to receive the vaccine until the inflammation around his brain reduces.
“We really would have liked Mark to have received the vaccine when we were out there but because of the swelling on his brain the doctors could not take the chance.”
As the couple prepared to return home they were given large amount of medical supplies and supplements for Mark to take when he got home to Ireland. Due to the weight limit imposed by the airline they were travelling with, Mark and Terri-Louise had to leave large amounts of their personal belongings behind to allow them to bring the medical supplies back home.
“Mark is now on a three month cycle of chemotherapy - it comes in tablet form and the treatment leaves him exhausted. He recently undertook a cycle and a few of his friends took him to see a Foyle Cup match in Buncrana but by the time he got home he was drained.
“The chemotherapy tablets affect Mark’s mood as well - it’s been one long horrendous nightmare and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” added Terri-Louise.
Mark’s regime back home is just as strict as it was when he was in Mexico. Every morning, afternoon and evening he has to take 15 tablets, food supplements, specially prepared drinks and Terri-Louise has to administer injections to him.
“We are doing so much and we cannot stray off the path at all. It’s not as simple as taking a tablet and you’ll be cured. If only it was that simple. The prospect of Mark’s condition improving depends on so many things and we will not know if it’s been successful or not for quite some time.
“We live in hope and we have a strong faith but we are also trying to be realistic. I witnessed a woman with severe cancer come to the clinic when we were in Mexico - she is now in remission but on the other hand three patients died during our time there.”
The support and kindness of strangers is something Mark and Terri-Louise will never take for granted and they made a point of thanking everyone who made their visit to the clinic in Mexico possible.
“We count ourselves very lucky - I’ve met people with the same brain tumour as Mark and they are struggling to come up with the money to pay for treatment. We are so grateful for everything everyone has done for us.
“We also met many people from all over the world at the clinic too and they have been so supportive. Whilst some of them do not have the same condition as Mark they are there for the same reasons and we got so much from talking to them too.
“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing and hope for the best - hopefully there’s happy ending to all of this,” said Terri-Louise.