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Press release

Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years

John Lewis High Wycombe funds research into the disease that killed employee

John Lewis High Wycombe funds research into the disease that killed employee

An employee’s death from a brain tumour has inspired John Lewis High Wycombe to support research to help find a cure for the disease.

Andy Graham, from Hughenden Valley in Buckinghamshire, worked at the branch for 29 years as the resident camera expert. The 52-year-old had been experiencing dizzy spells and vertigo on the shop floor and was eventually referred for an MRI scan which revealed a low-grade haemangioblastoma tumour located on his brain stem.

The dad-of-two underwent surgery to remove the tumour but due to its location, surgeons were unsuccessful and over the next 18 months, despite surgery, Andy deteriorated. Following a fall in A&E, Andy then suffered from bleeds on his brain and multiple seizures and on New Year’s Eve 2017, Andy passed away at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, leaving his wife Gill and sons, Oliver and Daniel.

Gill said: “Andy loved his job and was a loyal John Lewis employee for almost three decades, which is why I’m so delighted that the store is now supporting the Brain Tumour Research charity in his memory.”

One of Andy’s managers, Mark Hastings, appealed to the store to choose the Brain Tumour Research charity as its charity of the year after witnessing the devastating impact the disease had on Andy. He said: “Seeing Andy’s demise was traumatic to say the least. It made me realise that this could happen to anyone and the fact that the disease is prevalent in younger adults really struck a chord.”

Dawn Stokoe, Community Liaison Co-ordinator at the store, said: “Andy is sorely missed here, he was such a fun character and the customers always enjoyed talking to him. Other colleagues here have also lost loved ones to brain tumours which is why are determined to support the Brain Tumour Research charity.”

Sheeba Sadanandan, a sales assistant at John Lewis High Wycombe, lost close friend, Sarah Pestana, to a brain tumour in June 2017. Sarah, a mum-of-two from High Wycombe, died from a highly aggressive glioblastoma tumour, at the age of 48. Leaving behind her husband and two sons, Sarah’s death came just 34 days after her diagnosis. 

Sheeba said: “Sarah and I were friends for over 16 years so it was heart-breaking to see a brain tumour claim her life so suddenly. Her father was killed by the exact same tumour six months before and it’s just so unfortunate that this indiscriminate disease has hit their family twice.

“I can’t sit back and watch brain tumours continue to destroy families like this which is why I was so pleased that our store has chosen to support research into a cure.”

The store, situated on Holmers Farm Way, will support the Brain Tumour Research charity over the course of the year through a variety of fundraising activities such as ‘bushtucker’ trials, an Indian chef experience and a sponsored car wash.

Michael Thelwall, Head of Community Fundraising at the Brain Tumour Research charity, said: “We are honoured to be John Lewis High Wycombe’s Charity of the Year. This collaboration will help us in our mission to build a network of experts in sustainable research at dedicated UK Centres of Excellence. Ultimately, this will lead to better outcomes for patients – from improved awareness for earlier diagnosis, to the development of more effective personalised treatments and targeted drugs. Through the funds generated, we will be able to significantly fast-track progress towards finding a cure for brain tumours.”


For further information, please contact:
Farel Williams at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867221 or 07592 502708 or Farel.Williams@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 for 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
  • 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.

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