Leeds patient appeals for more funding for research into brain tumours
A young woman who speaks of her brain tumour as a ‘ticking time bomb’ is pinning her hopes on a research breakthrough after meeting with scientists working towards a cure.
Anna Whitehead, 27, was at the Brain Tumour Research charity’s Centre of Excellence at Imperial College London to meet scientists specialising in brain tumours. Anna, a diabetes researcher at the University of Leeds, was diagnosed with an astrocytoma in March 2015 and whilst her tumour is now stable, she has to undergo regular scans to monitor its growth.
She said: “I am now classed as ‘stable’, meaning the tumour has not grown since my treatment. However, one day regular scans will show the ‘ticking time bomb’ in my head has turned nasty and will dramatically shorten my life. This uncertainty is difficult to accept.”
On Thursday 6 December, Anna and her partner Joe Clements were given a tour of the research facility at Hammersmith Hospital and heard from lead scientist Dr Nelofer Syed about the work taking place there. They met Kevin O’Neill, a leading neuro-surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital who told them about how the research work was being translated into new surgical tools, such as the iKnife, which can differentiate between tumour and normal brain cells during surgery.
In recognition of the £3,000 she has raised in support of Brain Tumour Research, Anna also placed a tile on the Wall of Hope at Imperial College where each tile represents the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research. Together with Joe, family and friends, Anna raised the funds through a Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and various running events.
Anna said: “I chose to fundraise for this charity as I have a keen interest in research. The difficult thing about my tumour was that it was hard to operate on, as is the case with most brain tumours. So, to find out more about the iKnife that is being developed at Imperial College was brilliant. I said to Mr O’Neill that it sounded almost too good to be true! It was really great to have the opportunity to hear from and talk to the leading people in the field. I hope that when I need surgery in the future, technologies like these will be widely available.
“Placing my tile on the Wall of Hope emphasised how many people care passionately about research into the brain tumours; however, it also emphasised the amount of lives this disease takes as many people fundraise in memory of loved ones. There is still a long way to go, many gaps in the wall to fill, but I left optimistic that changes to patient care are happening. We just have to keep going.”
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Matthew Price, community fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Anna for fundraising and helping us to fund sustainable research at Research Centres of Excellence such as the one based at Imperial College.
“We need the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately to find a cure.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence in the UK; it also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.
For further information, please contact:
Farel James at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867221 or 07592 502708 or Farel.James@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 ground-breaking research 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) which published its report Brain Tumours A cost too much to bear? in 2018. Led by the charity, the report examines the economic and social impacts of a brain tumour diagnosis. We are also a key player 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
- 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.