A man is celebrating his 60th year by taking part in a third Ironman challenge inspired by his wife who is living with a dozen tumours on her brain.
This Sunday (20th August), Mark Sweeney will take on his third Ironman in Copenhagen, Denmark, completing a 2.3-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and a marathon. Mark has previously taken part in Ironman Mallorca in 2014 and Ironman Lanzarote in 2018.
Mark’s challenge is dedicated to his wife, Jayne, who was first diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in her left ear in 1985, at the age of 18. She had an operation to remove the mass, losing the hearing in that ear, and was monitored with regular scans, on the expectation she required no further treatment.
However, 11 years later in 1996, Jayne needed another operation after the tumour in her ear regrew. She was diagnosed with a genetic condition known as neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), which causes growths on nerve endings.
Four years ago, a routine scan found a tumour in her right ear and she is facing complete deafness. More recently a routine scan showed the growth of more tumours throughout her body and Jayne has 12 tumours growing in her brain alone.
Over almost four decades she has endured five operations to remove tumours from her brain, ear and ankle.
Mark said: “A cure for NF2 will be too late for Jayne but ongoing work at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence in the University of Plymouth offers hope for future NF2 patients. It’s why I’ve chosen to support such an important charity.
“The knowledge that I'll be doing something to help future patients, and that I'll never have to swim again has kept me going through the weeks of hard yards and will sustain me in the race. This one’s for you Jaynie.”
Good luck to Mark ahead of his Ironman this weekend! If you’d like to support his fundraising, please donate via his JustGiving page.