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Press release

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

Marathon challenge inspired by brain tumour loss

Marathon challenge inspired by brain tumour loss

A mother-of-two who lost her husband to a brain tumour has been inspired to tackle the London Marathon to help scientists find a cure for the disease.

Carrie Holbrook, 39, of Great Paxton, St Neots, will take part in this year’s event, along with her sister Donna White from Glossop in Derbyshire, to help fund research into the disease that claimed the life of Steve, an officer with Bedfordshire police for 15 years and father of their children, Emma, now nine, and Mason, six.

Steve and Carrie met at Redborne Upper School in Ampthill and believed they would grow old together. At the beginning of 2015 Steve was training for his third marathon when he began to develop headaches and vision problems. He was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour – a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Steve underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but tragically the tumour returned and 21 months after diagnosis, he passed away.

During the last year of his life, Steve worked passionately alongside the Brain Tumour Research charity to raise awareness of the disease and the underfunding of research which he felt was the only chance of finding a cure.

Carrie, a senior active lifestyle officer for Cambridge City Council, and Donna, a therapeutic radiographer working for the NHS in Sheffield, are in training and aiming to raise £6,000 between them for Brain Tumour Research.

Carrie said: “This will be my first marathon. I am following the London Marathon 17 weeks beginners’ plan and have just this week run 13 miles in one go – the equivalent of half a marathon.

Steve took up running to keep fit and ran a number of marathons. He even ran the Milton Keynes half marathon just months after surgery for his brain tumour.

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40, yet historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease which has left me without my husband and our children without their dad. I am hoping to inspire people to join me in fundraising for this vital cause.

“On Saturday 2 March, Donna and I are asking people to dig out those flares and platform shoes and join us for a 70s disco and live entertainment form ABBA Stars UK at Maulden Village Hall. Fancy dress is entirely optional, although actively encouraged! All proceeds will go to Brain Tumour Research.”

Carrie and Donna will join tens of thousands of runners pounding the streets of the capital at Virgin Money London Marathon, the world’s most famous running event, on Sunday 28 April 2019.

Money raised for Brain Tumour Research helps fund dedicated UK Research Centres of Excellence where scientists are focused on improving outcomes for patients and, ultimately, finding a cure. Historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours and the charity is lobbying the government and the larger cancer charities to increase this.

Paula Rastrick, community fundraising manager at Brain Tumour Research for the Central region, said: “Carrie and Donna’s enthusiasm to fundraise and help raise awareness of brain tumours is fantastic and we are extremely grateful for their support.

“Sadly, less than 20% of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across all cancers. We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”

To make a donation to Donna and Carrie’s fundraising go to

Tickets for the 70s night can be purchased up until Friday 1 March via or on the door at a cost of £12 per person


For further information, please contact:

Liz Fussey at Brain Tumour Research on 07811 068357 or


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) 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.