Mark Farren sets down the road to recovery from illness

A phrase made famous by ‘The Beatles’ rests on a coffee table in the living room of Mark Farren’s home in Moville.

It reads, ‘All You Need Is Love’ and during his time as a professional footballer, Mark was most certainly loved.

Mark and Terri Louise Farren pictured at their home in Moville. DER1014SL206 Photo: Stephen Latimer

Mark and Terri Louise Farren pictured at their home in Moville. DER1014SL206 Photo: Stephen Latimer

Football fans are not the only people to have loved Mark Farren.

Mark’s wife, Terri Louise, loves her husband in a way that can’t be put into words. Just being in the presence of Mark and Terri Louise is enough. Their love, devotion and friendship doesn’t require words for it to exist.

Mark will turn 32 in a few months time and although he and Terri Louise have been married for just over four years they have had to endure more anxiety, worry, stress and uncertainty than most couples would experience in several lifetimes.

On Christmas Eve 2008, Mark was diagnosed with a grade two brain tumour and was forced to take early retirement from professional football.

Mark Farren pictured at their home in Moville. DER1014SL208 Photo: Stephen Latimer

Mark Farren pictured at their home in Moville. DER1014SL208 Photo: Stephen Latimer

Mark underwent successful brain surgery in Liverpool in 2009 and along with the help and support of Terri Louise, his friends and family, he made a full recovery. In 2012, Mark accomplished what many had thought impossible, when, in the unmistakable red and white of his beloved Derry City, he broke Liam Coyle’s goal scoring record of 112 goals when he completed a hat-trick against Mervue United in the FAI Cup at the Brandywell.

“When Mark was recovering from his first operation, all he kept talking to me about was how he wanted to be Derry City’s top goal scorer. When Mark was playing for Derry City, everything else took a back seat - even our marriage,” jokes Terri Louise.

What both Mark and Terri Louise had to endure in 2008 and 2009 is unimaginable but after Mark’s recovery the couple started preparing for the rest of their life and in December 2009 they got married.

Due to the severity of what Mark had endured he faced a twice yearly brain scans. It was during one of these check-ups that Mark’s worst nightmares became a reality. In August of last year he received the news that the brain tumour had returned.

“When I received the diagnosis that the brain tumour was back again I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. Myself and Terri thought we had put all of this behind us but to get that news again was just unbelievable.

“Soon after the diagnosis the doctors told me that it was common for the type of tumour I had had before to return so quickly but no one told me about this back in 2009,” says Mark.

Mark was playing for Glenavon when he was diagnosed last year and in December he underwent brain surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Glenavon,” says Mark. “They have been with me every step of the way. They even offered myself and Terri a place to stay near Belfast during the treatment and the manager, Gary Hamilton, has remained in contact with me ever since this whole ordeal started.

“I couldn’t believe I was going through all of this again. My mother had also been diagnosed with bowel cancer at this time and my grandmother was also really ill. Sadly my granny passed away just before Christmas.”

Terri Louise recalled the morning last year when Mark was called for his operation and said as every hour passed the painstaking wait intensified.

“Mark went for his operation quite early in the morning and it wasn’t over until about seven or eight that night. I remember waiting and waiting - I just wanted to hear news that he was alright.”

Mark’s tumour was located on the left of his brain and as it was the part of the brain that controls his ability to talk he had to be awake for the operation.

“The speech therapist who was with me during the operation talked to me about the film ‘The Green Mile’ and about making beans on toast. They chose these things because it stimulates the part of the brain they operating on. Needless to say, I hate the sight of ‘The Green Mile’ now,” said Mark laughing.

Testament to his superb physical condition, Mark came out of recovery quite easily and within days of the operation he had been discharged and within a week he went back to do some light training with Glenavon.

Several weeks passed by and soon after Mark had to embark upon six weeks of preventative radiotherapy treatment in the City Hospital in Belfast. For six weeks, from Monday to Friday, Mark, along with Terri and other family members, would make the 180 mile round trip from Moville to Belfast.

“The radiotherapy treatment finished a few days ago,” says Mark happily.

“Thankfully, I didn’t start to lose my hair until week four of the treatment but it’s starting to grow back.

“It’s a waiting game now because whilst the doctors are happy with the way the operation and treatment went there will be no proper answer until after the swelling goes down.”

It will be the summer or early September before Mark and Terri find out if the radiotherapy treatment was a success but in between times they plan on enjoying life and Mark has hopes of studying for his FAI coaching badges.

“When Mark was going through his radiotherapy treatment in Belfast during the week, he was also doing his coaching badge in Sligo at the weekends. I am not making this up.

“There was one 48 hour period when I think I put 1000 miles on my car because I drove Mark up and down to Belfast on the Friday, then on to Sligo, then I went to Derry because I am a wedding photographer and was working at a wedding and then back to Sligo again. It was tiring to say the least,” smiles Terri Louise.

“Thanks to the lads in Sligo, I was able to study for my C-License and I have my last assessment in a few weeks time. I hope to do the next badge during the summer,” reveals Mark.

Mark and Terri will travel to America for a family wedding in the summer and until they have reason not do so, they plan on living a very full and normal life.

“I can’t begin to thank everyone enough. Kevin McHugh, Finn Harps, the Donegal referees, Blast Bootcamp, Peter Hutton, Stephen Kenny, Sligo Rovers, the PFAI, St. Patrick’s Athletic - the list goes on. I am so thankful for what everyone has done for myself
and Terri.

“I’ll have a few scans in the next few months and we’ll know more by then. Like I said, the waiting game for myself and Terri starts now.

“We refuse to be downbeat about everything because there is always someone worse off than yourself. I am very lucky to have such a brilliant family and Terri’s family have been amazing too.

“Terri is my rock and I don’t know where I would be without her. Hopefully everything what has happened is now in the past and we can get on with what we like doing best, quiet nights in watching movies and walking along the shore from Moville to Greencastle,” says Mark smiling.