Derry footballer back in action after removal of brain tumour
A footballer who had a tumour removed from his brain less than a year ago will make a sensational return to the pitch this weekend.
Derry City's Mark Farren (29) has finally got the green light from the neurosurgeon who carried out the seven-hour operation to say that he is once again fit to play football.
Mark was told he had the low-grade benign tumour during Christmas 2008, but incredibly he was able to play during the 2009/10 season before his condition forced him off the field for 10 months.
Despite facing the real possibility that the tumour would prevent him returning to football, Mark refused to give up hope.
He said he hopes that anyone who is facing similar difficulties can take inspiration from his story and never lose sight of their dreams.
Mark said as far as he is concerned, it will be "full steam ahead" when his team take on Sligo Rovers, so long as he has the medical team's say so.
"When you are told you have something seriously wrong with you, it is natural to feel low and that's everyone, not just people who play sport," he said.
"But I hope anyone who is in the position I was in takes heart in how I am doing now and I would encourage them to never lose sight of their dreams.
"For anyone who has been told they have a tumour, there are a lot of low times and you think you will never see high times again, but they do come. There is always hope and it is important to hang on to that."
Mark paid tribute to his "amazing doctor" at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Dr Cooke
"Last May when he finally gave me the green light to go back to playing football, it was the best feeling ever," said Mark.
"I had been training with the lads, but it is hard when you are training. You don't know if you will ever get to play again, so this is absolutely so exciting even though I haven't played a match in 10 months. I will be nervous stepping on the pitch. Hopefully once the whistle blows, the actual match will take over and any nerves I may have will leave me."
Derry City Manager, Stephen Kenny described Mark Farren's story as "amazing".
He said: "I don't recall any other sporting figure making a come back from such a serious condition, but it is typical of Mark."
In 2010 Mark Farren was instrumental in Derry City gaining promotion from the First Division, scoring 20 goals. He scored in the 1-0 victory in the last game over Monaghan to give Derry the championship. Farren finished 2005 as second-top scorer with 18 league goals in 31 appearances and 22 goals in all competitions.
He was PFAI Player of the Year. In 2006, he helped Derry City lift the FAI Cup with a strong end-of-season performance. He finished the season with 18 more goals.