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

Finding balance three years on

by Sam Suriakumar

    Sam was diagnosed with a glioma after suffering a cluster of grand mal seizures on his commute home from work in February 2020. Since being diagnosed, Sam has supported Brain Tumour Research including by organising a 24-hour kickathon and, on Sunday 23rd April, he will run the 2023 TCS London Marathon to raise vital funds and awareness. Three years on from his diagnosis, Sam shares his outlook on life, family and finding balance.

    Year three has in many ways been the hardest, but also most rewarding, year of this journey so far. To summarise three years in three bullet points:

    • Year one: You’re going 100mph and running on adrenaline
    • Year two: You’re just grateful to still be alive
    • Year three: You’re stuck in limbo – I’m still here, now what? How far do I go? How far can I go?

    Back at some point in the spring of 2020, when I started accepting what was happening in my life, I asked my wife Sindhu a really difficult question and wanted a brutally honest answer.

    My wife is a GP, a bloody good GP – patients, colleagues, family and friends genuinely trust her judgement. She thinks calmy under pressure and she’s generally the first person people go to for advice. The point is she’s a very good doctor!

    So when I asked her: “Babe, how long do you think I have to live?” I’m not really sure what I was expecting her to answer. I followed up with: “What sort of timelines do you think we are working towards?”

    I know it wasn’t a very fair question, given I wasn’t having a biopsy and there was no official diagnosis, rather a suspected diagnosis of a diffuse glioma, but anyone in my position will tell you that sometimes you need anything to hand onto and I needed a rough number.

    Her honest answer was “I really don’t know babe”, but with the limited knowledge and information we had, as well as looking at studies, she said: “I think we can hope for at least 10 years without any chemo or intervention. If we can do 10 years then that would be amazing.”

    Sam with his family

    We’re nearly a third of the way through those 10 years with no chemo, no intervention, no nothing. I’m thinking I could actually do the 10 years?! And more?! Maybe I will see my daughters get married, maybe even meet my grandkids. This is where your thoughts can start racing away from you.

    “You live in hope, but it’s the hope that kills you.” I’m not sure if that phrase exists, but I’m claiming it. It sounds a bit gloomy, but it sums up my continuous battle between hope and fear.

    When the tumour turned up, my girls were five and three years old. As I write this, Avaana is eight and Arya is six, but it feels as though we’ve lived more than 10 years within the last three years since my diagnosis. What I’m trying to say is I’m beginning to look at time differently, not as a measure of days/months/years, but of experiences. When you really think about it, it’s the experiences, the laughter, the tears, the moments that truly stay with us. For example, Avaana started walking around her first birthday. I can’t tell you exactly when because the date isn’t what stayed with me. What I remember are those first steps she took, her smiling little face and how happy that made me feel. The days and numbers are for history, the experiences and memories are for me.

    Doting dad Sam and his beloved daughter

    Whatever the challenge you are facing, nothing can take away HOW you choose to deal with the problem. That’s what defines who we are. And personally speaking that is all I want – I want my girls to know that Daddy was a kind, good guy. I want my friends to miss me because I was a good friend and I brought something to their lives.

    I have also found great purpose and peace in supporting the amazing work Brain Tumour Research is doing. Last year we organised an event called 24 Hour Kickathon: one football match lasting for 24 hours which involved nearly 180 men, women and kids. It was an amazing success that brought together so many different people – there was just such an outpouring of love and it was a fantastic example of what can happen when we unite for a purpose… and we raised £20,000! 

    Sam planning his 24-hour kickathon

    For our next challenge, my brothers in law, my tumour and I are running the London Marathon on behalf of the charity! Please support us and find out more info via our JustGiving page:

    Sam (top) and his brothers in law, Ahilan (bottom left) and Niro (bottom right), training for the marathon

    So, in summary, three years in and I’m still trying to find my balance. I don’t want to become so confident that I get destroyed if something were to go wrong…equally I don’t want to stay fearful where I am constantly on edge waiting for bad news. Either way I’m full of gratitude for this life. Thank you God for your love, kindness and provision. I’m going to end with a quote I was sent this recently which really resonated with me:

    “Be the reason why people believe in pure hearts, good vibes and kind souls”

    Love, Sam x

    Follow Sam on his journey via his personal blog ( and via Instagram ( @sam_suri)

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