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Midlands journalist loses cancer battle aged 44

A former regional press journalist who went into television and then PR has died, aged 44, after a six-month battle with skin cancer.

Father-of-two Neil Aitchison, left, died on Sunday at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital where he had been treated for malignant melanoma since being diagnosed with the terminal stage of the disease last November.

Neil spent five weeks in the hospital’s Deansley Ward last year after being told he could be paralysed and was unable to move.

Just three weeks later, he walked unaided down the aisle at St Mark’s Church, Great Wyrley to marry Linda, his partner of 16 years.

Neil began his career in the regional press and became editor of the Uttoxeter Advertiser, before moving on to cover health for the Worcester Evening News, where he met Linda, who was the news editor.

He also worked for the Leicester Mercury and the Birmingham Post before moving into television as part of the BBC Midlands Today team.

His final career move took him into PR where his roles included communications manager at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust and editor of the Forensic Science Service’s magazine, Clued Up.

In August he joined Cannock-based Passionate Media, recently renamed The Marketing Room, as new media director and continued in that role until his illness.

Neil leaves his wife Linda and their twin daughters, Emily and Melissa, aged 13.

Linda said: “The past few months brought the sorts of challenges that nobody should face. Neil’s nurses and doctors told him how much respect and admiration they had for him because of the way he met those challenges head on, got himself moving and proved their predictions wrong.

“As a colleague Neil was patient, diligent and hardworking. As a husband and father he was the absolute best and we are blessed to have had his love in our lives.

She added:  “Marrying Neil after all these years gave us both such joy.”


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  • May 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    This is a very brave, yet sad story and my thoughts go out to Neil’s family, even though I didn’t know him personally, some of my colleagues did.

    This closely follows the passing of Dave Hodgson with a similar condition.Dave was a close friend to many people in Birmingham.

    The other reason I’m writing this comment though is to warn everyone about the danger of skin cancer.

    Three years ago whilst visiting my doctor for a check up, she asked me if I knew about a small black mole on my back. I said no, as even my partner hadn’t mentioned it. Next day I was at the hospital where the consultant removed it and sent it away to be checked out.

    One week later the answer came back, that it was indeed a malignant melanoma. Bit of a shock. I returned to the hospital the next day for another local operation and this time when the result came back it was negative. Even now though, after all this time, I still have to check daily.

    It is a sad story about Neil and I’m obviously not aware of what caused his skin cancer, but please everyone,with summer coming, please take care in the sun and whatever you do, if a mole suddenly appears or changes colour go to your GP straight away. If mine hadn’t been found purely by chance, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

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  • May 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I endorse the above comment.
    A friend of mine went to a doctor when a mole changed. The GP sent him straight to a consultant and it was whipped out.
    The consultant told him that if he had delayed as little as two or three weeks, the cancer would have started to spread through his body, and he would have been a goner.

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  • May 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Agreed Robert, you only have a couple of weeks to act, because it will spread very quickly.
    I was very lucky. People should really be aware of how urgent it becomes if you discover something. Even with the pressure of work, this is one thing in your life you just can’t put off !

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  • May 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Hi Alan and Robert, melanoma has to be one of the cruellest diseases. Neil was first diagnosed 10 years ago with a mole on his back, he couldn’t have seen it but my nagging got him checked out. We used to say it was ‘only’ skin cancer. He had five years of check ups and all was fine. Since our family has been struck by this terrible condition I have inevitably read the whole Internet about it and was surprised to learn it isn’t always down to sun exposure. However Neil could remember one instance of being sun burned as a child. If anyone chances to read this and is worried about a mole, don’t assume it’s nothing or that your doctor will think you need to get out more – get it checked now.

    Just in case anyone reads this and would like to know Neil’s funeral details then pls get in touch [email protected],uk or [email protected], I’m sorry not sure if both work.

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