Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years
Widow at Westminster for launch of new cancer inquiry
The widow of a man who was killed by a brain tumour was at Westminster for the launch of a new Inquiry into the economic and social impacts of the disease.
Shaz Hetherington joined other families, patients, campaigners, and charity workers at the invitation of the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons and a Patron of the national charity Brain Tumour Research.
Model, businesswoman and brain tumour survivor Caprice was also at the event on Tuesday 6th March as the Inquiry, which will investigate the economic and social impacts of the disease, was opened. The Inquiry was announced by a group of cross-party MPs and peers on 28th February and will run throughout spring and summer.
Shaz, from Woodford Green, was among the first to be invited to submit evidence on a web forum facilitated by the charity. Her husband David was just 39 when he died in November 2016, leaving two children, Layla aged six, and Daniel, three. The couple met when they worked at nearby desks at HSBC in Canary Wharf. Within months of their marriage in February 2010, David started experiencing his first symptoms and was initially diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour which became high-grade over time.
Welcoming the Inquiry, Shaz said: “I think it is hard to fully understand the impact a brain tumour diagnosis has on your family unless you’ve been through it. It was tragic to think that David had to spend time and energy doing what he could to put our finances in order to make things as easy as possible for us after he had gone.
“At the stage where it became clear David was dying and there was nothing more which could been done, he was discharged from intensive care and I was advised to take him home and care for him myself. How was I to do that? Although he was terminally ill, at 39 David was too young for a nursing home and, ironically, not close enough to death for a hospice.”
In a nod to Wear A Hat Day, the fundraising campaign which takes place on Thursday 29th March, Caprice and other celebrity supporters including TV presenter Sarah Beeny, TV’s Instant Gardener Danny Clarke and celebrated milliner Noel Stewart, Shaz and HSBC colleague John Baker, a friend of David’s, donned their favourite headwear for a photo call.
The lack of investment in research into brain tumours, meaning treatments and survival rates lag significantly behind other cancers, has become a high-profile political issue with momentum building since January. Former Minister for Public Health and Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, who was diagnosed with a high grade glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) last year, received a standing ovation when she shared her story in the House of Lords.
The following month, the Government published the findings of a year-long Working Group including recommendations on how to increase the level and impact of research in brain tumours. An announcement revealing £45 million of research investment followed.
Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: "Brain tumours have been a neglected form of cancer for decades, killing more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. This Inquiry will shine a light on the social and economic impacts of brain tumours adding weight to our arguments and landing a huge urgency to our call for further funding to improve patient outcomes and offer much-needed hope to families.
“Whilst we welcome the funding announcement, the fact that the funds are spread over five years means that brain tumours remain a poor relation to other better-funded cancers.”
To take part in the inquiry go to www.braintumourresearch.org/campaigning/inquiry. The deadline for submissions is Friday 30th March.
For further information, please contact:
Susan Castle-Smith at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867206 or 07887 241639 or Susan@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 have established a game-changing network of world-class Research Centres of Excellence in the UK. Embracing passionate member charities nationwide, over £6 million was raised towards research and support during 2017.
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 unprecedented success of our 2015 petition led to the 2016 Westminster Hall debate and Brain Tumour Research taking a leading role in the Government’s Task and Finish Working Group convened to tackle the historic underfunding for research with the report being published in 2018.
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.