I’m Alistair. I live in SheffieldAlistair holding the Neurocare Golf Day Trophy with my wife, Caroline, and my two teenage daughters – not forgetting our pet dog, Billy. I am a very keen golfer and sit on the Board at Hallamshire Golf Club. It was there I received a phone call that changed my life. Today I’d like to share my story with you.

It all began a few weeks before lockdown in 2020 when it suddenly felt like a firework had gone off in my head. I went to bed and slept it off, thinking it was a migraine.

But over the coming weeks, my vision would change suddenly and then return to normal. And this would happen up to five times a day.

Noticing the pattern, I jokingly said to Caroline: “I hope I don’t have a brain tumour”.

I was more concerned when one day I walked around Forge Dam with my youngest daughter, Flora. It was raining heavily as we came up to a waterfall and stood watching it. The sound of the water was cutting in and out, when I knew it was obviously a constant sound. So, I knew something was wrong and visited my GP who referred me to have an MRI scan a week later.

After the scan, I went to play a round of golf at Hallamshire with my mates. Once we finished playing, I went to put my clubs away in the car and checked my phone. Seven missed calls – all from the GP. Panicking, I picked up the phone when the GP called me for the eighth time.

My GP said: “You need to go to hospital immediately – you have a brain tumour”.

Before I could process the news, I told my mates that I had to rush off, bluntly explaining my diagnosis. We were all completely in shock. I was going to have an operation in the morning and needed to rush home to pack an overnight bag.

Driving home, fear took hold of me. Thoughts raced through my head. Would the surgery be a success? Would I ever see my wife and kid’s faces again? Would I be able to walk or talk?

Back home, I hugged my family tight and told them I loved them. Then Caroline dropped me off at the Hallamshire Hospital. Due to the Covid restrictions, she couldn’t come with me. I had to face this battle alone.

At the hospital, I learned that I had a grade II tumour – it was growing slowly but could spread to nearby tissues. It would need to be removed later.

They gave me a full body MRI scan, and this showed something else on my liver. It meant I needed an ultrasound to rule out whether any cancer had spread.

For twenty minutes I wondered if I was going to live or die.

But thankfully it was not cancer in my liver. It turned out to be a cyst much to my relief.

The team caring for me formed a plan – I would be having surgery tomorrow to unblock a fluid reservoir that was pooling in my brain.

It was a long day waiting alone for surgery. You listen to the other patients, hearing their stories and diagnoses made me an even more emotional wreck.

A kind member of staff was a friend of mine. He listened and provided me with emotional comfort and reassurance when I was in bits. I’m forever grateful to him for lightening the mood – he made me feel much less alone.

Put under general anaesthetic, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Mr Sinha, got to work on my brain. And I woke up later that day.

Relief washed over me – I was alive, felt OK and everything still seemed to be working fine!

The surgery cleared the audio-visual symptoms that I experienced.

And I couldn’t wait to call Caroline, the kids, my mum and dad to tell them the good news.

Mr Sinha later spoke to me, reminding me that my journey was not over.

I needed more surgery in a few weeks’ time to remove the tumour lurking in my middle of my brain.

During surgery, Mr Sinha had to skilfully navigate around my sensitive brain tissue to remove the tumour. And thanks to Mr Sinha’s expertise, I survived.

Before and after brain scans showed the success of my surgery and I think Mr Sinha is a genius. I’m forever grateful to Mr Sinha for his care.

Post surgery, I had double vision although this would ease after a while. And a tiny bit of the tumour remained too so I had Gamma Knife treatment to keep it in check.

Afterwards I was so thankful to be told “forget about it now, go and enjoy your life”.

A few days later, I went back to my happy place – the golf course!

Sporting a new eye patch to help with the double vision, I felt like Long John Silver as I swung my club!

The hardest thing was seeing where the ball had gone after I hit it – I never realised how only using one eye to see would affect my depth perception.

This has all had quite an effect on the standard of my golf – my handicap has doubled since – but it seems a small price to pay when you go through something like this. Despite this, I captained the team that won the Neurocare Golf Day in June 2022, and this felt like a fantastic way to draw a line under my experiences, as it is a day that I have supported for many years.

Without the dedicated team on the Neurology Ward, I would not be alive and playing today. I am forever thankful for them and their care. And that is why I am giving even more support to Neurocare.