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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Thinking about my mum this Mother's Day

by Annie Slinn

Our PR Officer, Annie, lost her mum to a brain tumour. She talks about how it changed her and how her newfound purpose helps her to cope on Mother’s Day.

It’s now coming up to three years since Mum died and so much has changed.

We lost Mum in May 2016, after a five-year battle with a brain tumour. It was very hard being a teenager and seeing my mum go through radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. I felt so helpless and just wanted her to get better, and she was silently strong. I was just 20 when she passed away and I wasn’t prepared for how quickly she declined in her final two months.

It meant a lot to me that I was with Mum when she passed away and, in that moment, I thought the pain would never get any easier. But now I know that things do get better; the darkest times help to make you a stronger person.

I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved since Mum died. Losing her changed my outlook on life, and I try to look at the positives in negative situations. Mum never saw me graduate with a first-class degree at the University of Bristol, but I wanted to prove that her illness would not stop me achieving my goals. Last year, I was fortunate to travel to New York, Berlin, Budapest, Barcelona, Dublin and Amsterdam; I’m determined to make the most of every day, as you never know what’s around the corner.

I now work as a PR officer at Brain Tumour Research and I feel privileged to be able to speak with patients and bereaved families. When it’s appropriate, I mention my mum and I’m grateful to be part of such an understanding community, offering support when I can.

Earlier this month I was privileged to attend the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT) at Westminster. Among the people I met there was Jess Mills, daughter of the late Dame Tessa Jowell, who is playing a leading role in the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. This was a moving moment for me as I remember watching Dame Tessa’s speech at the House of Lords in January 2018, as she gave a voice to brain tumour patients across the country. It was emotive to talk to Jess about our shared experience of losing our mums to brain tumours.

Annie Slinn and Jess Mills

Annie (left) with Jess Mills.

On Mother’s Day, like many others who have lost their mum, I will be thinking a lot about my mum and that can be hard. However, I take strength in the fact that had it not be for losing her, I would not be half the person I am today. I’m also strengthened by being part of a community of supporters whose lives have been touched by this dreadful disease.

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