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

Supporters pay “emotional” visit to Plymouth Research Centre

by Alexa Copson

The team at our Centre of Excellence in the University of Plymouth, led by Professor Oliver Hanemann, has a world-leading track record in researching low-grade brain tumours and is making great progress. Recent discoveries include a breakthrough which could see drugs developed to treat HIV and AIDS used to treat patients diagnosed with meningioma and acoustic neuroma, and fantastic progress in the hunt for a simple blood test which could spare meningioma patients undergoing risky and invasive surgery

The team has also taken an exciting step forward in its work on neurofibromatosis type II (NF2), and a recent paper from Professor David Parkinson and his team is progress in the development of a non-surgical treatment for NF2 patients who have developed schwannoma tumours.

Last week, Prof Parkinson welcomed Brain Tumour Research supporters to our Plymouth Centre, where he took them on a tour of the labs where this ground-breaking research is taking place.

Amongst those supporters was Carly Beasley who – after surgery to remove a low-grade oligodendroglioma left her unable to talk – defied doctors’ expectations to regain her speech in a matter of months. Since her diagnosis, Carly, alongside family and friends, has raised more than £10,000 for Brain Tumour Research.

Carly, whose incredible story was shared on BBC Points West, was accompanied on the tour by her husband Kris and Ben, the chief operating officer of Stonewood which chose Brain Tumour Research as its Charity of the Year inspired by Carly’s diagnosis. They placed six tiles on the Wall of Hope, recognising the equivalent of the six days of research being sponsored.

Kris, Carly and Ben at the Wall of Hope

Katie Ann Dunn was diagnosed with a meningioma – one of the tumour types which the Plymouth team is investigating – in February 2021 and has endured two invasive surgeries and radiotherapy, as well as undergoing fertility preservation. Taking part in our 10,000 Steps a Day in February challenge, Katie and her family raised more than £3,000.

“Throughout everything in the last two years I have proved to myself that I am stronger than I ever thought,” she said. “To visit the lab and meet scientists who are working tirelessly to find a cure for the disease was emotional and I am so pleased to have contributed to that in some way.”

Katie with her medal for taking part in the 10,000 Steps challenge and placing her tile

For Lianne Jackson, the visit to our Plymouth Centre was an opportunity to honour her father, Keith, who died in February 2020, just three months after he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM).

Keith and Lianne

Lianne ran three marathons back-to-back over as many days in October 2022 and raised more than £7,000. She placed two tiles on the Wall of Hope in Keith’s memory and described her visit to the Centre as “an incredible, emotional and fitting tribute which I know he would have supported”.

Lianne and her partner Dan at the Wall of Hope

Sarah Bowman took on her own incredible endurance challenge, raising nearly £3,000 when she cycled almost 500 miles from Basingstoke to Jever in Germany, where her stepmum, Inge Bowman’s, family lived. Sarah’s motivation for the epic cycle came after Inge died from a grade 2 oligoastrocytoma in 2019, aged 58.

 Sarah said: “Before my stepmum’s diagnosis I didn’t know anything about brain tumours, it seems to be a cancer that no one ever talks about, but the devastation it causes is dreadful. To visit a lab where research is taking place was emotional, it made me proud of the fundraising effort that we have put in as a family.”

Sarah along with her father Alan, brother David and stepsister Elske placed a tile in Inge’s memory, which Sarah described as “a lovely tribute to the remember the strength Inge showed during her diagnosis” adding “being with my dad made it very special”.

David, Sarah, Elske and Alan at the Wall of Hope, placing a tile in memory of Inge (right)

Find out more about sponsoring a day of research on our website.

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