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In Hope

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.

Recently published stories

Freyja Hanstein

Freyja Hanstein was enveloped by grief after losing her husband to abdominal cancer just a month after they were married. Within a year she was fighting her own battle with the disease and underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour. She has now developed the app WholesomeWorld bringing together scientific and lifestyle information designed for patients and those supporting them through treatment.

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Catherine Wilcockson

Mum-of-three Catherine Wilcockson had not been feeling herself for the past two years and was mistakenly prescribed anti-depressants to treat her symptoms. After a couple of episodes of ‘blacking out’ and then a massive seizure in May 2019, it was finally discovered that she had a brain tumour. The 36-year-old from Sheffield has undergone an awake craniotomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and, remarkably, feels like her diagnosis has given her a new lease of life.

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Sara Crosland

On 20 February 2018, 44-year-old Sara Crosland’s life changed in unimaginable ways, when she was diagnosed with a 3.5cm acoustic neuroma, or vestibular schwannoma – a low grade brain tumour that affects around one in 100,000 people. Following a haemorrhage and major brain surgery that left her unable to walk, with impaired vision and balance, as well as permanent profound hearing loss, she has been focused on getting back everything the tumour took away from her, and much more. Eighteen months post-surgery and the active mother-of-three from Ellesmere Port is now accomplishing more than she ever thought possible.  Read more

All stories

Claire Messer

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.

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Claire Whittle

Claire, 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.”
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Damon Bowles

It's been just over a year since 49-year-old dad-of-two, Damon Bowles, received treatment for a low-grade acoustic neuroma brain tumour. It's a non-cancerous growth that presses on the nerves leading from the inner ear to the brain and can affect your hearing and balance. 

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Dan Mason

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 didnt know how to react or how to comfort me and that was really hard to deal with.

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Daniel Burridge

Daniel is the youngest of three children with an older brother and sister. In his last year at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham, Daniel is studying for A’ Levels in Further Maths, Physics and Geography, having already taken Maths last year.  He is applying to university to study Mechanical Engineering and hopes to get a place at Imperial or Bath.  

Aged 17, Daniel was just 5ft, 5in tall, despite his Dad being 6ft 4in.  Investigations led to him being diagnosed with a tumour on his pituitary gland, which fortunately turned out to be benign.  

“Mum found the six-week wait to learn whether the tumour was benign or malignant much more worrying than me. It really affected her, especially as, unbeknown to me, she went online and looked up pituitary gland tumours and discovered that in 20 per cent of cases they are malignant. I was more worried about whether I was going to be able to continue boxing, which I had enjoyed so much for the past five years.”  
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Danielle Louise Gould

After experiencing months of painful headaches and issues with her balance, flight attendant, Danielle Louise Gould was diagnosed with a cerebellar hemangioblastoma brain tumour in 2012. Though her tumour was categorised as low-grade and not aggressive, Danielle still had to undergo 8 surgeries to remove the tumour and control the fluid build-up on her brain. With the support of her family, boyfriend and twin sister Cherise, Danielle rebuilt her life after the tumour and remains determined to continue working on her bucket list of goals with her sister before they turn 30 next year.

“I was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where an MRI scan revealed the nature of my tumour. It showed I had a tumour the size of a pea called a cerebellar hemangioblastoma in the centre of my brain, surrounded by a layer of fluid. This build-up of fluid, the size of an egg, was pushing on the cerebellum, which is the part of my brain that controls balance, movement and coordination.”

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Darcyana Aspery-Walsh

Darcy was 21 months old when she was finally diagnosed with a brain tumour, but her mother had to fight to get medics to listen.  She was still undergoing chemotherapy when her mother, Debbie was diagnosed with incurable cancer.

“Less than a year after Darcyana was diagnosed with a brain tumour, I found a lump in my breast…. I underwent a bone marrow biopsy which revealed that I had secondary breast cancer which had already spread to my bones. I didn’t think lightning could strike twice.”

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David Rickford

David was 28 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, having already recovered from Hodgkins Lymphoma.  As his mother, I have really felt the utter helplessness of the situation and now want to do something to help others if I can. Read more

David Todd

David has undergone surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy since being diagosed with a grade three anaplastic oligodendroglioma in July 2017. His tumour has caused a large social and economic burden as well as the psychological difficulties to not knowing what the future for him, his wife and their son, will bring.

“It is difficult to convey just how much our lives have been changed by my diagnosis. I haven’t been given a prognosis as such, perhaps the doctors are scared to tell me. No-one knows how long I have had the tumour and, just now, I don’t know if I’ll be here for another four or five years or whether I’ve got as little as two months. It’s ironic to think that prior to my diagnosis I had stopped drinking, I’ve never smoked and have always been fit. It is hard to understand how this could happen to someone like me and not knowing what the future will bring is by far the hardest thing.”
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Debs Clarke

Mechanic Debs Clarke suffered years of crippling back pain prior to being diagnosed with a grade two hemangiopericytoma (HPC) brain tumour in February 2017 at the age of 43. Despite being house bound and coming to terms with maybe not returning to the job she loved, her strong faith has allowed her to remain positive and thankful for every day. Though her tumour is rare, she has been told there is a small chance her sisters could carry the genes, and is now focused on ensuring her sisters are tested for the disease.

“When a nurse looked at me funny after having my CT, I had a bad feeling about the results as she looked really worried. I called my best friend Mel panicking and said “I have a brain tumour”, to which she told me to stop being silly, as it was “likely to be nothing serious as brain tumours are really rare”. My suspicions were confirmed when the doctor called me the following Monday.”

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