A broken-hearted son who lost his dad to a rare form of eye cancer has walked more than 100 miles to raise money for research into the illness.
Mark Dorward, 47, lost his dad Sandy in 2017 just 10 months after he was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in the retina of his eye.
In Sandy’s memory Mark decided to challenge himself and walk all four Scottish Kiltwalks this year – raising a total of nearly £5,000 for the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group (LOORG) in the process.
Mark, of Denoon Terrace, said: “I’ve come out with a few blisters but the pain I’ve had is nothing compared to what those who are diagnosed with cancer go through.
“My dad never complained of the pain he was experiencing, he was always putting everyone else first and focused on his football – that’s what kept him going.”
Sandy, who died at the age of 70, was a well known figure in amateur football, having played for Woodlane and the 6th BB Ex-Members’ team in the Midlands Amateur League. He then became coach and physiotherapist for Dundee East Craigie and later a physiotherapist for Broughty Athletic.
Mark said his dad’s diagnosis was a shock to everyone.
He said: “My dad had no symptoms. He knew he was needing new glasses and went to the optician, who found a lump on his retina.”
Sandy was immediately sent to Ninewells Hospital for tests, which confirmed he had ocular melanoma and two months later his eye was removed.
However the cancer had spread to Sandy’s liver and despite receiving treatment, the condition became fatal.
Mark said: “My dad was my best friend, I had a lot of respect for him.
“Raising money for research into his condition has helped keep me focused, I don’t know where I’d be without it.
“It also means he didn’t die in vain. It’s such a small organisation that any fundraising they get makes a big difference to them.”
Mark’s family received further devastating news when his mum Loraine was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer last year.
She died in March aged 68, but gave her blessing and encouragement to Mark to continue with his fundraising.
He said: “I wasn’t going to do anything this year but my mum said it was important to her that I carried on, so I did.”
Last year Mark raised £2,000 for LOORG by taking part in the Dundee Kiltwalk.
This year he upped the challenge and participated in the Kiltwalk events at Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh, and has nearly reached his target of raising an additional £3,000.
Mark said: “I’ve had great support from the football community, which I am really appreciative of.
“My dad was so popular and well liked.
“Some of the guys I know regard him as a legend.
“When he got ill he took it all in his stride and was always looking forward to the next match.
“Football was his passion and it’s what kept him going.”
His last wish was to take his granddaughter Alix, then seven, on to the pitch at Tannadice Park as his mascot, which he got to do at the GA Engineering Cup Final in 2017, where his team Broughty Athletic won 5-1 against Tayport.
Mark has taken up his dad’s former role of physiotherapist at Dundee East Craigie.
He said: “It’s a bit daunting filling the boots of a legend.”