Loss of childhood friends to brain tumours inspires charity challenge – post-event
After losing two school friends to brain tumours, one woman competed in the Great North Run to raise vital funds for research into the disease.
Jo Unitt, 29, from Loughborough, took on the challenging course in memory of her school friends, Jake McCarthy and Michael Smith, who both passed away from aggressive brain tumours. Jake’s tumour went undiagnosed and he died suddenly in December 2012. He was just 24 years old. Michael was diagnosed just a few months later, and battled the disease for several years before sadly passing away in late in November 2015, aged 27.
Jo, who studied at Newcastle University along with Michael, was among thousands of runners taking part in the Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon. This year’s event took place on 10th September, starting in Newcastle and covering a 13.1-mile route.
A 35-strong team took part in the race to raise money for the pioneering charity Brain Tumour Research which funds a network of Centres of Excellence where scientists are focused on improving treatments for patients and finding a cure. Each day of research costs £2,740.
Jo said: “I met Jake and Mike at Loughborough Endowed Schools, where we were part of a large friendship group that all used to hang around together. They were great guys with a real lust for life, it’s so sad that their lives were cut short by such a cruel disease. I hope my efforts will help raise awareness of the current underfunding for research into brain tumours. More must be done if we are to prevent others from suffering as Jake and Michael did.”
Suzanne McKenna, Head of Community Fundraising (North) for Brain Tumour Research, said: “For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer. Stories like Jake’s and Michael’s reminds us all that we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.
“Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“The charity is striving to fund a network of seven dedicated research centres whilst challenging the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research. We are extremely grateful to Jo and all our runners for raising such vital funds to help us find a cure for this horrible disease.”
For further information, please contact:
Lexie Dabney at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867222 or 07591 206545 or Lexie.Dabney@braintumourresearch.org
Notes to Editors
Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK focused on funding sustainable research to find a cure for brain tumours. We are building a game-changing network of world-class Research Centres of Excellence in the UK. Embracing passionate member charities nationwide, £5.5 million was raised towards research and support during 2016.
We are campaigning to see the national spend on research into brain tumours increased to £30 - £35 million a year, in line with breast cancer and leukaemia. The charity is celebrating a year of high-profile campaigning on this issue following the unprecedented success of its petition in 2016. Following that, Brain Tumour Research is now taking a leading role in the Government’s Task and Finish Working Group convened to tackle the historic underfunding for research.
Key statistics on brain tumours:
- Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
- They kill more children than leukaemia
- They kill more men under 45 than prostate cancer
- They kill more women under 35 than breast cancer
- Just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease
- In the UK 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
- Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers
- Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone, at any age
- Incidences of, and deaths from, brain tumours are increasing.
Please quote Brain Tumour Research as the source when using this information. Additional facts and statistics are available from our website including our latest Report on National Research Funding. We can also provide case-studies and research expertise for media.