A doting Sheffield dad-of-two who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis has launched a fundrasing drive to try new treatment in Mexico.
Mark Mather, 46, from Totley, was diagnosed with the debilitating disease back in 2008. Since his diagnosis, the MS has progressed so that Mark now struggles to walk around and do things most parents take for granted.
His two boys, Oliver, eight and Lucien five, want 'Daddy simply to be able to walk and play football and do all the things a Daddy wants to do'.
Before Mark developed MS, he worked for the then South Yorkshire Ambulance Service as a trainee paramedic and before that he served in the RAF for 15 years.
The MS meant he had to stop working for the SYAS and so he retrained and became a teaching assistant at Norfolk Community Primary School until it became too much and he had to give it up. He now devotes his time to looking after his two young boys.
Despite 'fantastic' medical care at hospitals in Sheffield, the nature of MS means Mark’s condition will deteriorate as there is no cure . The current treatment on offer is drugs and lifestyle changes to slow the onset of the symptoms.
But there is now an alternative and recently a BBC Panorama programme highlighted HSCT treatment for MS - a combination of chemotherapy and stem cell harvesting.
"The treatment should stop the disease in its tracks so Mark won’t get any worse and if things go well, he may even fully recovery, but just stopping the decline will make a huge difference," Mark's partner Kirstie said.
Mark asked his consultant if he could have HSCT and be part of a strict trial in Sheffield but sadly he doesn't meet the criteria for the treatment in the UK.
After hours of research, the dad-of-two found a clinic in Mexico that provides the treatment, but it costs £50,000 including travel and accommodation. There are other clinics closer to home but they’re said to be much more expensive.
The treatment involves Mark going to Mexico for 28 days and having chemotherapy to stop the MS and stem cell harvesting and replanting, to reboot his immune system and give him some quality of life. There is no guarantees it will work and there is a high level of discomfort during treatment, being away from his wife and children at a time he’ll need them most.
Mark's partner Kirstie said: "If Mark doesn’t go, based on his prognosis he will potentially end up with a high level of disability, unable to live his life like the rest of us.
"There is no cure for MS, this treatment is the next best thing. Those who know Mark, know he’s a great guy, and after all his work in the RAF and especially the ambulance service he now needs help to get the treatment he needs.
"He is currently on a long waiting list and trying to raise the money, but once he’s raised the funds he goes on a cancellation list and gets to Mexico much quicker which will at least stop the MS getting worse. Who knows, with luck, he may even make a full recovery."
To donate to Mark's cause, click here.