Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years
Grieving widow at Westminster as MPs hear of unbearable brain tumour burden
A widow who lost her husband to a brain tumour travelled to Westminster as MPs were told of the “unbearable” burden of the disease.
Gill Graham of Hughenden Valley, Buckinghamshire, was in London for yesterday’s (Tuesday 20 November) meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPG-BT) as it published a hard-hitting report on the economic and social impacts faced by patients and their families.
Gill’s husband Andy, who worked as a camera expert at John Lewis in High Wycombe, was diagnosed in 2016, aged 51, with a low-grade brain tumour and, despite surgery and treatment, he suffered unimaginable trauma and distress as the tumour continued to grow. He passed away 18 months later, leaving Gill and their two sons.
Gill said: “Andy was told by his neurosurgeon he had to return his driving licence on our first appointment, so it meant he lost his independence, which was very difficult for him, and needed to be driven to all his numerous hospital and therapy appointments. Andy wasn’t allowed to fly either, so I had to drive the family to Switzerland so that Andy could attend his youngest brother’s wedding.
“I never imagined that our sons Ollie, 15, and Dan, 13, and I would be starting 2018 without him. In just 18 months, our lives changed beyond recognition. Andy passed away on New Year’s Eve 2017. He will never see our boys grow up, share their future, see them get exam results, go to university, get married, have a family or anything, and the impact to our lives has been devastating. I had to stop working and am now focusing on dealing with my grief and supporting the boys through crucial years at school. It means I am having to live on bereavement benefits and a small pension from John Lewis and I have to scrimp and save to make sure the boys don’t go without.”
Brain tumours – a cost too much to bear? is the report of a Parliamentary inquiry into the economic and social impacts of brain tumours which received more than 200 online submissions from patients and their families and comprehensive written submissions from charities and academics. It also held oral evidence sessions during June and July from researchers, doctors, surgeons, academics, representatives of drug companies as well as brain tumour patients of all ages and their families.
Its key findings include:
- The incapacitating nature of a brain tumour, a cancer of the body’s most important organ, can see patients faced with an immediate financial burden and the severity of the disease all too often means people contribute less to the economy and society at large.
- Costs range from loss of income through to higher domestic bills and costly home modifications. Additionally, patients are required to surrender their driving licence, leading to a loss of independence.
- The experience of children, teenager and young adult patients is dismaying; they will experience more ‘social’ issues as the disease affects them at an important stage of their development and they have to bear its burden for the rest of their lives.
Derek Thomas MP for St Ives, who is chairman of the APPG-BT, said: “It was impossible not to have been personally affected by the wealth of emotionally compelling personal stories we heard during the course of this Inquiry and my most heartfelt thanks go to all of the brain tumour patients and their families who helped us with this report. For those of us who were privileged to hear this evidence first hand it was an experience that will stay with us for a very long time. Over the coming months and years, we will use the results of this Inquiry to keep brain tumours on the political agenda and improve outcomes for brain tumour patients.”
Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of the charity Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are extremely grateful to Gill for her continued support and for sharing her personal story which demonstrates why we must continue to highlight this issue and do everything we can to improve outcomes for brain tumour patients.
“Understanding the very high ongoing costs of brain tumours is vital and the Government must find additional ways to minimise these costs. We will continue to influence and find ways to minimise this unique burden through a combination of further research funding, earlier diagnosis, additional benefits, and improved post-treatment support for brain tumour patients and their families.”
For further information, please contact:
Liz Fussey at Brain Tumour Research on 07811 068357 or Liz@braintumourresearch.org
Notes to Editors
Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK dedicated to raising funds for continuous and sustainable scientific research into brain tumours, and we are a leading voice calling for greater support and action for research into what scientists are calling the last battleground against cancer.
We are building a network of experts in sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence whilst influencing the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more nationally.
We welcome recent funding announcements for research into brain tumours from the UK Government and Cancer Research UK – £65 million pledged over the next five years. However, this potential funding of £13 million a year comes with a catch – money will only be granted to quality research proposals and, due to the historic lack of investment, there may not be enough of these applications that qualify for grants from this pot.
We want research funding parity with breast cancer and leukaemia. We are calling for a £30-35 million investment every year for research into brain tumours in order to fund the basic research groundwork needed to accelerate the translation from laboratory discoveries into clinical trials and fast-track new therapies for this devastating disease.
The Brain Tumour Research charity is a powerful campaigning organisation and represents the voice of the brain tumour community across the UK. We helped establish and provide the ongoing Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Brain Tumours (APPGBT). We are supporting the crucial APPGBT 2018 Inquiry into the economic and social impacts of brain tumours and will publish their report in the autumn. We are also a key influencer in the development strategy of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission.
Key statistics on brain tumours:
- Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age
- Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
- Historically, Just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours
- In the UK, 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
- Brain tumours kill more children than leukaemia
- Brain tumours kill more men under 45 than prostate cancer
- Brain tumours kill more women under 35 than breast cancer
- Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers
Please quote Brain Tumour Research as the source when using this information. Additional facts and statistics are available from our website. We can also provide case studies and research expertise for the media.