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Press release

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

Mum launches South West fundraising appeal for Brain Tumour Research

Mum launches South West fundraising appeal for Brain Tumour Research

Mum of four, Elaine Lee is looking forward to a happy family Christmas – despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour nineteen months ago.

Elaine, who is 47, is celebrating her first festive season as a married woman after finally tying the knot with partner Shawn after 33 years together.

Her shock diagnosis with a meningioma, a type of low-grade brain tumour, came just over two years after she lost her father Graham Lee, 70, from Buckfastleigh, to the disease. But despite the devastating news and an uncertain future, Elaine, who also lives in Buckfastleigh, is determined to continue to live her life to the full.

“Shawn has been my tower of strength,” she said. “We decided after so many years that the time was right to get married and, having spent two years planning the big day, nothing – not even a brain tumour – was going to stop us.

After suffering sudden head pain following a seemingly minor road accident, Elaine underwent a number of tests and was shocked to be told she had a brain tumour which had probably been growing for a number of years. The shock was two-fold as Elaine had only recently seen her father die from cancer which had spread to his brain.

Now, along with the support of Shawn and their children Emma, 31, Carla, 26, Symone, 22, and Leah, 13, Elaine is planning a frenzy of festive fundraising to help others like her. She aims to raise £5,000 for the Brain Tumour Research charity which is working to find a cure for the disease and improving outcomes for patients like her.

Elaine said: “I am fortunate that my tumour is low-grade but its location means surgery is too risky. At the moment we are watching and waiting to see what happens and my latest scan showed that there was no growth which is positive news.

“No-one knows what the future might bring but I have a lot to live for and am determined to remain positive and live my life to the full. Shawn and I were childhood sweethearts and had been planning our wedding before my diagnosis. We were determined that we weren’t going to let it ruin things and the big day was perfect, such a positive occasion after so much negativity.

“I am looking forward to an extra-special Christmas with Shawn and our girls. It has been a chaotic year and will be such a relief for the six of us to get together. Sadly, many families won’t have the privilege we do. 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.

“As a mum, I can’t imagine how it must be to live with the knowledge that your child has this awful disease and I am determined to do some good out of what started as a bad situation.”

Elaine is planning a series of Christmas fundraisers including a stall at the Buckfastleigh Christmas Fayre. Her employers, Wiltshire Farm Foods, have already donated a whopping £500 to get her fund started.

Amy White, community fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We hope people will be inspired by Elaine’s story of courage and donate to her campaign. It is so touching that she is putting others before herself and we hope that people across the South West will respond in order to help others at this reflective time of year.”

To donate to Elaine’s Christmas appeal please go to

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at Research Centres of Excellence in the UK including one at the University of Plymouth where scientists are focused on low-grade tumours.

The charity 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:
Annie Slinn at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867239 or 07591 206545 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). 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
  • 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.