AS a young couple very much in love they should be planning for a future together.

Instead, Katherine Coll and James Austin are living with the fact James has no idea how long he has left to live.

The couple, who have been together for four years, were devastated last year when James was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

Although he was just 24, the usually fit and active young man was told he has a stage four tumour, which has an average six to 14 month life expectancy.

Now, 18 months on from his diagnosis, Katherine and James are trying to live each day as it comes.

Katherine said: "For me, when James got to 14 months I thought it was amazing but James's mental state went down.

"Every day now he feels he's living a day he's not supposed to be."

James, now 26, said: "Before I started back to work I was falling into a really bad place.

"To everybody else I'm ok but mentally it's getting hard, the longer I go into the survival, and every day you think how long have you got?

"You think of things coming down the line but you can't plan, you can't plan ahead.

"I do that typical guy thing of saying you are alright but it's hard."

James, a keen footballer, had been physically fit but last year began to suffer from crippling headaches.

Katherine was worried he had a bad flu as he was also vomiting and sweating badly.

In March last year the couple went to Amsterdam for a short break but James's symptoms were profound.

Katherine, from Old Kilpatrick, said: "The headache was worse in the morning and he was so tired we were in bed every night about 8pm.

"We were still going out and seeing the sights so I wasn't really that concerned. On the way back he was really ill on the plane and at the airport he was lying on the conveyor belt because he was in too much pain to stand up.

"I was really worried about what people would think and kept telling him to stand up. The people at the airport were really good and let us pass through security quickly.

"But, James being James, the next day he insisted on going to work."

Having only managed a half shift that day, James then missed football, which rang alarms for Katherine as her boyfriend never skipped training.

Katherine said: "James has the highest pain threshold I have ever known in someone.

"So when he got home early and then didn't make football, that's when I thought, 'This is weird' because James never missed football.

"At that point I said, 'We are going to go to out of hours.'"

The out of hours doctor diagnosed James with migraine but the migraine medicine only made him feel worse.

They then tried their GP, who thought it was his sinuses, while a further doctor's visit resulted in them being told James had taken too many painkillers and had a medically induced headache.

Finally, on March 15, Katherine was at work when James phoned her in tears from the pain in his head so Katherine's mum took James to A&E.

Katherine said: "They said, 'We think it's a really, really severe migraine but we just want to check with the neurology team.

"You absolutely don't think it's going to be anything serious. My mum even went home to make dinner for us coming back.

"The doctor said, 'I don't want to jinx anything but you'll be out by tonight.'

"They took him for a scan and I think I have an instinct for things because I just was so sure something was about to happen, even with the doctor's reassurances."

James added: "I was in agony and I was sensitive to light and noise. I remember the GP at out of hours had holes in her tights and thinking, 'Why should I listen to you when you can't even get dressed properly?'

"I knew she was wrong. I was having to carry a pillow with me to wrap my head in because of the light and noise and pain."

At the hospital, James was given a scan and Katherine knew to fear the worst when medics asked if her mum was still there.

Katherine said: "They said, 'We have found a large mass on your frontal lobe.'

"I felt I couldn't get upset because James wasn't getting upset. They said it could be benign or it could be cancer and they wanted to keep him in overnight.

"They told us this was just the start and to prepare for the worst."

James had brain surgery on March 21, which removed most of the tumour, and March 28 the couple were given the news he had a stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme tumour, meaning he would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

After the diagnosis of cancer, James did not want any further details but, unfortunately, found out by accidentally seeing a test message on his mum's phone.

Katherine said: "Straight away you started looking it up and the websites were saying life expectancy was six to 12 months. James has never asked for a prognosis.

"It's hard enough for him to know the average survival rates.

"When he first went in for his first radiation session I said to his nurse, 'Will he ever be able to say he's in remission?' and she said no."

Chemotherapy made James ill and, as scans showed his tumour was not growing, he decided to stop treatment and now has a three-monthly brain scan.

Katherine said: "James had stopped work and I stopped work but we realised that being at home every day was not good for us, it was getting ridiculous.

"We were waiting every three months to have this scan but not living in between the three months.

"We don't want to get five years down the line and realise we have wasted all that time worrying and going from scan to scan."

For James, coping day to day is not easy. He throws himself into exercise and tries to keep his thoughts busy with other things.

He said: "Even when they did the operation I was hopeful. I decided it would be fine. I Googled it, even though they tell you not to do that.

"You can deal without a leg, you can have one lung but you can't live without a brain.

"My tumour was pushing on the bit of the brain that deals with personality and memory. That's really frightening to me because I didn't want to change, I didn't want my actions to be because of the tumour and not because of me.

"Exercise is helping me, trying to find things to fill your day because you need to not be sitting yourself with your thoughts."

James also struggles to think about his parents, two older sisters and, in particular, his seven-year-old sister, Skye.

He said: "I have to be strong for them. Self pity doesn't help anyone else.

"My biggest fear is Skye not remembering me.

"I don't want her making the mistakes I did but I won't be there to help her so I'm trying to give her as much guidance as I can now, while I'm here, which probably means I'm too hard on her."

James returned to his gardening job two days a week while Katherine joined an agency who said they were sending her for an interview with a charity.

That charity turned out to be Maggie's Centres, where Katherine and James's mum had gone looking for support when James was having treatment.

Katherine said: "When I found out it was Maggie's, I felt it was meant to be.

"Being so young when James was first diagnosed, a lot of our friends didn’t know what to say and do.

"I think a lot of my friends found it really difficult and didn’t want to end up saying the wrong thing so ended up saying nothing.

"That is why Maggie’s was so helpful because when you go into Maggie’s you can talk about cancer as much or as little as you want.

"It is a place that makes you feel like you are not alone in what can otherwise be one of the most isolating times of your life."

Katherine is now organising the Maggie's Culture Crawls, with Glasgow's event taking place on September 29.

The fundraiser is a 10-mile walk around the city, enjoying food, history, art and culture.

James is also taking part in the walk to support his girlfriend and say 'thank you' to Maggie's for their support.

For information about the event, see