Surgeon gave me my life back!

Chris and Samantha Smith with 16 month-old son Freddie.
Chris and Samantha Smith with 16 month-old son Freddie.

A Garstang dad who has fought back to full fitness after having a tumour the size of a golf ball removed from inside his head is in training for the London Marathon to raise cash for the hospital which saved his life.

Just 18 months ago, policeman Chris Smith thought his life was over when the lump was discovered in the tissue which covers his brain.

But now, thanks to doctors at the Royal Preston Hospital, he is back at work on the beat and regularly runs from his home in Garstang Road, Catterall, to the top of Beacon Fell and back as part of his marathon training schedule.

“I’m fitter than I’ve ever been,” said Chris as he cuddled their 16-month-old baby Freddie.

But not so long ago, the future looked bleak for Chis and his new bride, Samantha.

After returning from honeymoon in Jamaica, he felt dizzy and almost fell downstairs at the police station where he works in Lancaster.

“I’d been having headaches for some time,” but I’d just been taking aspirin for them,” said Chris.

“Then I almost fell downstairs at work – luckily the Superintendent managed to catch me!”

After scan at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary he was transferred to the neurological ward in at the Royal Preston Hospital, where doctors told the devastated couple the true extent of the benign tumour.

“I thought it was curtains,” admitted Chris.

“They told me I had a meningioma,which grows in the layers of skin covering the brain.

“Doctors said I may have had it all my life, just growing larger until it pressed on my brain so much on my interfered with my brain functions.

Chris was warned the operation could leave him with disabilities, or a personality change, but it was his only hope of survival.

The operation left him with no ill effects – and the bonus that for the first time in 22 years, he no longer needed to wear glasses.

But after he was allowed home, he found the wound was not healing properly.

He was rushed back into hospital at Christmas, 2011, and it was discovered the wound had gone septic, so it had to be washed out and a portion a six inches by four inches portion of Chris’s skull removed. In August last year, he had a titanium plate fitted. “The bone will grow over it in 30-40 years,” he said.

“We don’t blame anyone for the infection, it is just one of those things.

“The doctors and nurses, especially my consultant Mrs Marcia Davidson-Hugh were amazing. I would never knock the NHS. In the space of a week I’d been diagnosed and had the operation and was on the road to recovery.

“I’ll never be able to thank them