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

Remembering loved ones lost to glioblastoma

by Liz Fussey

Despite a national rail strike, we were delighted that all the families we had been expecting, managed to make it to our Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London (Queen Mary) on Wednesday 31st May.  Some had made supreme efforts to be able to attend the presentations by Principal Investigator Professor Silvia Marino at Queen Mary and Head of Research, Policy and Innovation at the charity, Dr Karen Noble, and then tour the labs and speak to the scientists.

All our visiting families know the pain of a glioblastoma (GBM) diagnosis and have been blindsided that the standard treatment for GBM, which has barely changed in decades, means the survival prognosis remains so devastatingly short. 

Our guests included Deirdre Cullen (pictured left with her friend Joyce) who flew down together from Scotland, on the day Deirdre should have been celebrating her fourth wedding anniversary, to hear about the research into GBM being conducted by Professor Silvia Marino and her team. It was enlightening to hear that scientists have identified the diverse nature of GBM tumours, both between patients and within the tumour itself, and found that unique features may well help bring about more tailored treatment for GBM in the future.

Deirdre placed two tiles on the 2023 panel of the Wall of Hope dedicated to her husband Terry who she lost in September 2020 to a GBM. The couple had been together for 26 years, although only married just before Terry underwent debulking surgery after his diagnosis. Terry had been advised there was a strong possibility he wouldn’t survive the operation so, as well as organising the wedding, he updated his will, sorted his funeral plan, and drew up a power of attorney to ensure everything was taken care of for Deirdre.

The family of Graham Green, a Portsmouth businessman, but more significantly, a beloved husband (he and Vivien met when they were both 14), father, grandfather and great-grandfather, came to place two tiles in his memory, as well as a tile dedicated to the mother-in-law of one of the employees at Portsmouth Demolition & Salvage Ltd – the company Graham set up – who also died from a brain tumour. 

Inspired by Graham, for the last two years, a team of around a dozen family members, friends and colleagues have taken on the Great South Run, raising enough to sponsor the equivalent of three days of research. They’re currently in training to take part all over again in this iconic annual 10-miler which takes place in Portsmouth in October.

Nonagenarian Gordon Carter, another great-grandfather, grandfather, husband and father, who lost his son Martin, was at Queen Mary with his son’s partner Diane to put up a tile. Gordon reached lofty heights by taking on a wing walk which not only raised enough to sponsor the equivalent of a day of research, but also attracted plenty of media attention, including stories on BBC and ITV regional news. He and Diane were emotional placing the tile honouring Martin, who died just 10 weeks after his GBM diagnosis whilst on holiday with Diane.

Jo and Bernard Crossey (pictured below with Jo’s brother Peter behind) came to the event and placed six tiles on the Wall of Hope dedicated to their son Sean who died from a GBM aged 29 in September 2019, just three months after he married his long-term partner Laura. Jo has organised a number of fundraising events including a Host for Hope and a Wear A Hat Day with Flowers. Bernard led a Coast-to-Coast team, hiking from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire, carrying Sean’s ashes.

Actress and celebrity supporter Vicki Michelle MBE (pictured below with Prof Silvia Marino) also took up the opportunity to visit Queen Mary– keen to hear more about the work being conducted there as her sister has recently undergone surgery for GBM.

Earlier this year, Vicki modelled one of the 22 Crowning Glory hats to celebrate the Coronation being auctioned to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research in a collaboration with Go Epsom, The British Hat Guild and The Jockey Club. Last weekend the hats, which have been fashioned in combinations of scarlet, purple, black and gold, the colours of the royal racing silks, were exhibited at Epsom Downs during The Derby festival. More information on the hats is available on our website. Bids can be placed up until 11th June. 

We extend our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters for their fundraising efforts, helping towards finding a cure for GBM and all types of brain tumour, thereby bringing hope for families in the future who face the news that a loved one has a brain tumour.

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