Asbestos poisoninghas left Mark Cockram with months to live – and a ‘fighting’ spirit as he took on the Gosport Golden Mile to fundraise for a Hampshire support group.
Mark, who worked for more than four decades as a painter and decorator, thought he had developed a bad cough last September, until he was left unable to breathe and had to be rushed to hospital.
He was diagnosed with a mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer caused by asbestos, with doctors giving him less than a year to live.
Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group (HASAG) has helped him throughout his treatment for the disease — and now Mark, 58, is using his last months to support the group that has supported him.
He said: ‘I could sit there feeling sorry for myself.
‘But I’m not going to – I’m going to fight every day.
‘HASAG have been amazing, and I’ll do what I can to help.’
Angie, Mark’s wife, said the group had supported them ‘all the way,’ helping the family to fill out benefits paperwork just a week after his diagnosis.
She said: ‘We’re trying to fundraise as much as we can for this horrible, horrible disease.
‘One fibre of asbestos can cause it – it’s heartbreaking.’
‘Thankfully we’ve had great support from HASAG – and all our family and friends have been a fantastic support.’
Mark was joined in the fundraising walk along Gosport promenade by more than 30 friends and family members – with ages ranging from 4 to almost 70.
Linda Dwyer, 69, a family friend, was determined her own illness – Parkinson’s disease – would not stop her from walking part of the route.
She said: ‘In the end, I won’t be able to walk and talk.
‘But today I can come out and support my friends.
‘I was able to walk across the start and finish line.’
Friends and family have not just been busy fundraising for the support group – they have a surprise in store for Mark at the beginning of June.
Angie said: ‘It’s a secret – it’s big, and we know he’s going to love it.’
Deanne Lee, Mark’s daughter, said her dad had been ‘working all the time,’ but now he can spend more time with his loved ones.
She said: ‘Mum and dad are always going for on trips around the country.
‘They’re making the most of their time together.’