In Memory of Mark Dickson

We are truly devastated to announce that Mark Dickson, NF2er and patron of CYHU, passed away in the early hours of the morning on Friday 10th August.

Mark fought a long, hard battle with NF2 and his family have said that he felt ready to go, but for those who loved him, nothing could prepare us for the loss of a person who there is so much to miss. Mark’s sense of humour was a selfless and inspirational characteristic that will remain at the forefront of our minds when we reminisce about him. Despite having so many things to complain about, Mark never did, and he would even joke around to lift the spirits of people who were saddened to witness the multitude of challenges that he had to endure. 

I (Jessica) met Mark in the oncology unit at Addenbrooke’s hospital when we happened to start our Avastin treatment for growing tumours on the very same day. We quickly became close friends and I often consulted Mark with ideas I had to provide support to other people with NF2 – one of these ideas was called ‘Can You Hear Us?’ (CYHU). Mark encouraged me to develop my ideas and helped in any way that he was physically able to. In 2013, Mark contributed his story to ‘NF2: Our Journeys’ and joined other authors at the book launch event to celebrate our achievement and the birth of CYHU.

Mark attended many sessions of ‘Companions in Clinic’ on days when he receiving the results of his MRI scans and here he enjoyed speaking with many different people affected by NF2. He also joined us at a few of the social gatherings. Here, despite having very limited use of all four limbs, Mark did not hesitate to take on the challenge of adaptive skiing at the snow slope in Hemel Hempstead while his loving sister, Claire, watched on with excitement and white-knuckles. He also enjoyed a lovely, but rather soggy, roll up into the tree tops of Salcey Forest with his ever supportive dad, Allan, and fellow NF2ers.

For Mark’s 30th birthday, before I had the pleasure of knowing him, the thrill-seeker within decided to jump from a plane and dive through the sky. Shortly after this, NF2 took a turn for the worse and Mark acquired various disabilities in a short space of time. Now confined to the restraints of his body, Mark began to think that many activities were beyond his ability but with his innate resilience, he soon realised that this did not have to be the case. In his words, “Life with NF2 has taught me that, really, I can do anything, I may just have to go about it a slightly different way to how others do.”

Mark’s skydive was a highlight of his life and with his can-do attitude he got to relive a slice of the action at an event organised by iDID Adventure for people with disabilities to go indoor skydiving at iFly, Milton Keynes.

With CYHU being so close to Mark’s heart, his family have kindly offered donations in memory of him come to us. To honour Mark’s life, all funds raised will be used to sponsor other NF2 patients to experience an indoor skydive. The cost is £40 per person and we hope to be able to offer this opportunity to at least 10 patients in both the northern and southern regions. (Indoor skydiving dates and applications will be open soon)

Thank you in advance for your support. Our warmest wishes go out to Mark’s family and friends at this very sad time