Christmas Star Appeal: Sheffield chef is fighting back after cancer diagnosis

Marcus Donaldson during his courageous 3k walk.
Marcus Donaldson during his courageous 3k walk.
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Sheffield chef Marcus Donaldson was fulfilling his dreams working in top Michelin-starred restaurants conjuring up glorious food.

But his dreams fell apart when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. Life was put on hold.

In June 2014, after experiencing seizures in his hand and arm, Marcus visited his GP and was referred for an x-ray and CT scan before being given the shock diagnosis of a brain tumour.

Just one week on from receiving the devastating news, Marcus, from Ringinglow, underwent surgery to remove the tumour.

After successful surgery followed by 33 radiotherapy sessions at Weston Park Hospital, Marcus vowed to support the hospital’s charity as a thank you to staff at the hospital for helping him remain positive and determined throughout his cancer journey.

Marcus tried to see the positive side and aimed to fight his cancer despite reeling in disbelief.

Sheffield Boxer Adam Etches is throwing his weight behind the appeal

Sheffield Boxer Adam Etches is throwing his weight behind the appeal

“Cancer was just something else I had to overcome,” said Marcus.

“I looked at it like any other challenge in my life and knew that the only way through was to fight it with everything I had. I just couldn’t believe that I had a brain tumour and still, to this day, I try to think of it as a positive rather than a negative.

“Being diagnosed with cancer certainly made me look at life in a more optimistic light and made me extremely grateful for what I do have rather than dwell on problems I have had to face.”

Battling cancer in itself is a monumental challenge, but Marcus went above and beyond earlier this year when he competed in Weston Park’s charity 3km race in Graves Park.

Despite struggling to even walk without assistance, he managed the amazing feat. Not one to make a fuss, it was only when he completed the first lap of the course, being aided by his mum, that spectators realised the tremendous physical challenge he had taken on.

Just days after being wheelchair bound, Marcus made his final step over the finish line to a huge round of applause from spectators and fellow runners.

Marcus said: “I wanted to do something to show how grateful I was to the hospital for giving me my life back.

“I never expected such overwhelming recognition but the reception I received when reaching the finish line was unbelievable and a moment which I will remember forever.”

The 36-year-old is now encouraging others to donate to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity’s Christmas Star Appeal this festive season, after receiving treatment for his grade 4 brain tumour.

This year, as part of its Christmas Star Appeal, Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity is asking for donations to give local cancer patients of all ages a happier Christmas and a brighter New Year.

Marcus said: “This Christmas, thanks to the brilliant staff at Weston Park Hospital, I can spend quality time with my family and start rebuilding my life again.

“I am living proof that cancer can affect anyone at any time, but that’s not to say there isn’t light at the end of the tunnel. I’d urge everyone to support Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity this Christmas and make a genuine difference to people like me, who are faced with the scary and often uncertain reality caused by a cancer diagnosis.”

Each supporter will receive a silver star decoration for their Christmas tree at home with a space to write their own personal message.

Donations will help pay for Christmas gifts and dinners for patients and also support ongoing projects which will help keep the hospital at the forefront of cancer research, treatment and care.

Charity bosses urged people to hang their stars ‘with pride’ whether in memory of a loved one or in the hope of a better future ‘safe in the knowledge they are making a positive difference to families fighting cancer this Christmas’.

Marcus’s oncologist Dr Bernie Foran said: “Marcus epitomises the courage and determination so many patients demonstrate when diagnosed with cancer.

“The rollercoaster of a ride that patients and their families face when dealing with cancer, its effects and the side effects of treatment on normal everyday activities shows how fragile our health can be.

“Every day of every year we help our patients to try to overcome the consequences of cancer so that they can live as normal life as possible and take on such incredible feats.

“The achievements of Marcus are inspirational and I am personally so thankful to him.

“As a consequence of his support of the cancer charity he will empower other patients and their families facing a similar battle.”

Charity Fundraising Manager Helen Gentle said: “Marcus is a star in his own right and we are extremely grateful for his support, not just around Christmas time, but throughout 2015.

“Despite such a difficult year, he has shown incredible determination and thought of others while still coming to terms with his own diagnosis. Donations around Christmas contribute to life-changing projects within Weston Park Hospital that help improve the patient journey all year round plus make their time here over the festive period just that little bit more special.”

Sheffield boxer Adam Etches, from Birley, who helped raise £13,000 for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity from two boxing dinners and has donated takings from fights to the hospital, has urged people to back the Star Appeal.

He said: “I love raising money for Weston Park.”

n Donations to the appeal can be made via post, online at or by texting WPCC15 followed by the amount you would like to donate – £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 – to 70070.