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40-year-old who died of cancer is hailed as ‘an inspiration’

A MAN who courageously fought off cancer for 14 years conquered Mount Snowdon just weeks before the disease finally took his life.

Later this month friends and family of 40-year-old Mark Nixon will say their farewells at his funeral in Baildon.

Mourners are expected to include friends from local rugby clubs where he played and Bradford Rowing Club, a sport he took up when his illness made the impact of tackles and scrums too much.

Mr Nixon, who lived at Hirstmill, Saltaire, died at Manorlands Sue Ryder hospice in Oxenhope, near Keighley, with his mum and sister by his side.

Friend Sam Gardener said Mr Nixon was a trained quantity surveyor but had more recently worked at his old school – St Mary’s in Menston – as a teaching assistant where he had inspired young people in sport.

“It has been a long struggle for Mark but he never gave up trying to get on with his life and making the most of it. He got to the top of Snowdon just six weeks before he died. Some other friends went with him but it was his sheer determination that got him to the summit,” said Mr Gardener.

Back in 2009 Mr Nixon also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, for Macmillan Cancer Support, raising more than £3,000 for the charity.

Mr Nixon was diagnosed with grade four testicular cancer at the age of 26 and was given just a 50 per cent chance of survival.

By the time he took on Mount Kilimanjaro he had endured nine gruelling cycles of chemotherapy but had many tumours in his lungs, liver and abdomen which did not respond. With the expertise of doctors at St James’s Institute of Oncology in Leeds and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, he underwent a number of major operations to remove the tumours.

In between operations Mr Nixon travelled to countries including Australia for the Rugby World Cup, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Thailand and the USA.

A tribute from Mr Nixon’s family announcing his death in the T&A said he was “a truly inspirational and dearly loved son”. He leaves his mother Julia Nixon, who lives in Baildon, a sister and a niece. His father, David Nixon, lost his life to cancer in 2013.

Mr Nixon’s funeral service will be at Baildon Methodist Church at 12.45pm on Thursday, December 14, followed by cremation at Nab Wood Crematorium.

Instead of flowers his family are asking for donations to be made in his memory to Manorlands and to Marie Curie Cancer Care.

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