A Chester businessman and grandfather given a year to live says he’s had a new lease of life.
The owner of Living Floors in Bumpers Lane and former Flintshire politician Blair Smillie was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour in April and, despite his initial devastation, he now describes himself as 'happier than he has ever been'.
The 62-year-old from Higher Kinnerton was at work on April 1 when he realised something was wrong.
He was speaking on the phone to a client and was unable to take down their number. He then began to speak 'nonsense' and staff called an ambulance.
Medics thought he’d had a minor stroke and he was allowed home after checks but, a few hours later, he was back at hospital where he underwent a scan.
The next day, doctors revealed the devastating news that he had a 'medium-sized' tumour on the brain and had just 12 months to live.
Blair said: “It felt like my life fell apart. I was devastated and me and my wife Eleanor cried our eyes out.”
The father-of-two, who has three grandchildren, added: “The first 10 days we were emotional wrecks.
"I remember my baby granddaughter coming to visit, and she was just a few weeks old and I thought I won’t get to see her grow up past two.”Read more: Chester's charity Twilight Walk in pictures
Surgeons operated for six hours and were able to remove 90% of the tumour.
Blair said: “There was a possibility that it was such a dangerous operation that I could lose my memory or not be able to speak again.
"I swore if I got through it then every day would be new and I would make a change. I haven’t shed another tear since.
“I’m probably the happiest man I’ve ever been. I’ve passed my business on to my children Elaine and Fraser, and I’ve started a new life.
"You always think you are going to live forever, but you can’t.”
Last May, Blair hoped to become a Ukip MP for Alyn and Deeside and finished third with 7,260 votes.
Fast forward a year, and he is now receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy five times a week at Clatterbridge Hospital in Wirral, describing the staff there as 'amazing and 'filled with kindness'.
Blair is determined to raise awareness of the great job they do as well as charities including Maggie’s, who have offered him professional support.
He said: “I want to do what I can to help. There has got to be a better way to fund the NHS. It needs to be separate from politics.”
Blair has started a blog to give others battling terminal illnesses hope.
He said: “The blog lets people see that having 12 months to live is not a disaster.
"I worked six days a week before, but now I’ve probably fit 10 years in spending time with my wife and family.
"If someone reads it and sees a man not scared and living in the moment and it helps, that’s great.”