Widow at Westminster as MPs hear of unbearable brain tumour burden
A woman who lost her husband to a brain tumour travelled to Westminster as MPs were told of the “unbearable” burden of the disease.
Wendy McMahon, who lives in Mottingham, was in London on Tuesday 20 November for a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPG-BT) as it published a hard-hitting report on the economic and social impacts faced by patients and their families.
Her husband Glenn McMahon was diagnosed with an incurable and aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in October 2013. He underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy but passed away in June 2015 at the age of 53, just 15 months after the couple were married.
Wendy, 57, said: “To be told Glenn had a brain tumour was like being hit by a bus. He asked straight away how long he had and was told the prognosis was 12 to 18 months, though he chose not to live by the constraint of numbers but to live every day to the full. Glenn never told people his prognosis as he wanted to protect them from the severity of the situation and get on with his life.”
When Glenn deteriorated, Wendy took time off work as an occupational therapist to care for him. She has now welcomed the report released by the APPG-BT which highlights the financial burden of the disease.
Wendy continued: “Through my work I had seen people of all ages struck down by brain tumours and had cared for them and their families. Now here I was, as Glenn’s wife, and not as a healthcare professional, caring for my beloved husband, one of the hardest, most heart-breaking times of my life.”
Wendy has worked tirelessly to increase awareness of brain tumours and set up a Fundraising Group, the Glenn McMahon Foundation, under the umbrella of the Brain Tumour Research charity to help find a cure for brain tumours.
Wendy added: “I have so far raised more than £50,000 thanks to the help, support and generosity of so many friends and family, and more events are planned to continue to support the work of Brain Tumour Research.”
Brain tumours – a cost too much to bear? is the report of a Parliamentary inquiry into the economic and social impacts of brain tumours which received more than 200 online submissions from patients and their families and comprehensive written submissions from charities and academics. It also held oral evidence sessions during June and July from researchers, doctors, surgeons, academics, representatives of drug companies as well as brain tumour patients of all ages and their families.
Its key findings include:
- The incapacitating nature of a brain tumour, a cancer of the body’s most important organ, can see patients faced with an immediate financial burden and the severity of the disease all too often means people contribute less to the economy and society at large.
- Costs range from loss of income through to higher domestic bills and costly home modifications. Additionally, patients are required to surrender their driving licence, leading to a loss of independence.
- The experience of children, teenager and young adult patients is dismaying; they will experience more ‘social’ issues as the disease affects them at an important stage of their development and they have to bear its burden for the rest of their lives.
Derek Thomas MP for St Ives, who is chairman of the APPG-BT, said: “It was impossible not to have been personally affected by the wealth of emotionally compelling personal stories we heard during the course of this Inquiry and my most heartfelt thanks go to all of the brain tumour patients and their families who helped us with this report. For those of us who were privileged to hear this evidence first hand it was an experience that will stay with us for a very long time. Over the coming months and years, we will use the results of this Inquiry to keep brain tumours on the political agenda and improve outcomes for brain tumour patients.”
Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of the charity Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are extremely grateful to Wendy for her continued support and for sharing her personal story which demonstrates why we must continue to highlight this issue and do everything we can to improve outcomes for brain tumour patients.
“Understanding the very high ongoing costs of brain tumours is vital and the Government must find additional ways to minimise these costs. We will continue to influence and find ways to minimise this unique burden through a combination of further research funding, earlier diagnosis, additional benefits, and improved post-treatment support for brain tumour patients and their families.”
For further information, please contact:
Annie Slinn at the Brain Tumour Research charity on 01908 867239 or 07591 206545 or firstname.lastname@example.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 of 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.