Just 1% of the national research spend has been allocated to this devastating disease
The diagnosis of a brain tumour is devastating, however there is hope. We have been fortunate to meet some very brave people who have survived to tell the tale and who want to share their story to give hope to others.
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Programme & partnerships manager, 27-year-old Rose Acton lives in Finsbury Park in North London with her boyfriend Tom. In August 2019, the King’s College London History graduate was diagnosed with an inoperable, grade 4 glioblastoma (GBM), she refers to as ‘Bobby’.
Rose, who grew up in Manchester, made the decision to blog about her brain tumour journey on the day she received her devastating diagnosis. Determined to throw everything at it to ensure ‘Bobby’ is ‘going down’, Rose has just embarked on a six-week course of intensive treatment to try to shrink the tumour.
For first-time parents Stephanie Day and James Devlin, it was devastating to be told their new-born baby George had a brain tumour. ‘Gorgeous George’ underwent a nine-hour craniotomy when he was just 10 weeks old and is now a healthy and happy little boy. His mum Stephanie, 27, who was shocked that someone so young could be diagnosed with such a serious condition, is keen to raise awareness of the disease.Read more
Kent-based radio producer Duncan Wallace, originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is happily married with two young children, a great circle of friends and a successful and exciting career in the music industry. But life was turned upside down for Duncan in April 2019 when he was diagnosed with an inoperable, high-grade brain tumour. Having recently undergone his first course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Duncan remains positive in spite of his prognosis and is training to run a half marathon; the Great North Run.Read more
Charlie PudneyCharlie was just seven-years-old when he was diagnosed with an ependymoma. The tumour was successfully removed in surgery but, as there was a high chance of regrowth, Charlie and his family travelled to the States for nine weeks of Proton Beam Therapy. Now back at school and enjoying football once more, Charlie is well and undergoes regular scans. The experience has changed the life of his family forever.
“Charlie is the same little boy as he was before although, emotionally, the experience has changed us. We live for now and don’t take anything for granted. I am angry and frustrated to think that brain tumours 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. This is such a complex disease and although I understand this makes diagnosis and treatment so difficult, it affects so many young people that this is precisely why more needs to be done.”
Since her diagnosis with a grade two oligodendroglioma, mum-of-two Charlotte Giddings has undergone three brain tumour operations and had part of her skull removed. She has had long periods when she was unable to drive and the business she ran with her husband has closed down. Despite this, she considers herself fortunate.
“In many ways I am lucky, my tumour is low-grade. I don’t want to sit around worrying about how long I’ve got left. We know that if the tumour does come back my only treatment options would be chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It seems ridiculous that brain tumours affect so many people yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.”Read more
Charlotte ReidCharlotte was just three years old when she started having bad headaches. As she grew up, the pain would last for weeks and what was initially dismissed as stress was eventually diagnosed as a brain tumour. Although “low- grade”, the treatment to combat the growth of Charlotte’s tumour has had severe impact on her life. Aged 17, she is dependent on her parents and suffers from short term memory loss and impaired vision.
“Prior to her diagnosis, Charlotte was like any other teenage girl. She was interested in fashion and make up and enjoyed pop music, particularly Adele, Little Mix and Ellie Goulding. Now, while she can cook a simple meal, she has to be reminded about getting dressed and brushing her teeth. Our world seemed to alter the most six months after Charlotte’s treatment which was a necessary evil. Her life has been turned upside down by the side effects which are huge and life-changing and I am so glad we didn’t know before about the damage it would cause.” Read more
After experiencing months of crippling migraines, sickness and balance issues sports-mad Chris was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 15 years old as he was due to sit his mock GCSEs. Now 25 years on, Chris looks back and counts himself lucky that his tumour was low-grade and able to be removed by surgery, as many others are not so fortunate.
“When I was told I had a brain tumour and that it was the cause of all my symptoms that year, I was actually quite surprised, though my parents were obviously very upset. My initial thought was could I still play football and when could I leave to go see my friends. We were told that it was low-grade tumour, about the size of a golf ball and I would need surgery to remove it. There was and still is very little known about brain tumours and what causes them, so when the consultant said they were confident that they could get it all out, this news didn’t stop my parents from worrying about me.”Read more
Christine was in her fifties when she began to experience strange symptoms. She put these down to the menopause and stress at work but one night, when she was woken up by paramedics, she found herself at the start of a long and life-changing journey. She was diagnosed with a meningioma and underwent a seven-hour operation. Many ups and downs later, Christine is grateful to be alive, determined to live her life in the moment and not worry too much about the future.
“My experience taught me that you never know what’s around the corner. Within one day, my life turned upside down. I feel grateful that my tumour was low-grade, but I realise it still could have killed me. I don’t like planning ahead anymore because life can be so unpredictable. For now, I want to enjoy time with my family and live in the moment.”
Cindy, a 60-year-old grandmother thought that she was going through the menopause when she began to struggle with her balance in 2013. After numerous trips to the doctor, Cindy found out she had been living with a low-grade meningioma, that had been growing steadily over the last five years.“When the doctors came in to speak to me I thought: “If this is the menopause then I must have it really bad”. But when they said “brain tumour” I was relieved. Everything made sense.” Read more
Claire ButtonClaire was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 after she was taken ill Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, and immediately evacuated back to the UK. Claire lives with her husband Phil and their daughter Ellen. Read more
For hairstylist Claire Messer, the last thing she could have imagined was causing her hearing loss was a large brain tumour. After being diagnosed in 2015, Claire’s meningioma was successfully treated with gamma knife radiotherapy and now she is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. She has also fundraised with her husband, Rod, and two daughters, Chloe and Celine, raising over £4,000 for the Brain Tumour Research charity.
“I was in utter disbelief. I shed tears out of anger and thought ‘I’m too young for this’. My diagnosis was a short, sharp shock that made me think about my own mortality. It was the moment I realised I wasn’t indestructible. I’m so grateful to have had such excellent treatment and because of this I’m determined to help others in a similar situation.”Read more
Claire WhittleClaire, a French teacher at Stanton School in Milton Keynes, was diagnosed with a grade 2/3 astrocytoma in 2011, aged 51. She made a decision at the time that she wouldn’t be a victim and that she would live to be a grandmother. Nearly five years on she feels so blessed to still be here.
“I was given the news by a hard-nosed clinical nurse specialist because my neurosurgeon was called away on an emergency. She walked in with a big white envelope and bluntly stated: “I know all about it. There is no cure… but the good news is that you can have a bus pass.”
After suffering seizures, former soldier Dan Mason, 33, was diagnosed with a pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma – a very rare and incurable type of brain tumour. He was forced to quit the job he loved and lost his driving licence, yet still faced his diagnosis with positivity. A tattoo across his chest, which translates to ‘think positive, be strong’, reminds Dan to live in the moment, despite the pressure his illness places on him, his wife Roz and his children Caleb, 10, and Daisy, two.
“Emotionally, things were tough. I remember standing outside the hospital, in my army uniform, crying. My friends and family members didn’t know how to react or how to comfort me and that was really hard to deal with.”Read more