Police officer Jim Murray, 52, is living with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive form of brain cancer. He has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Despite the difficult times, Jim and his wife Ally are determined to make the most of every day, by travelling and spending time with their three sons Callum, Simon and Richard, and their grandchildren.
Here is Jim’s story, as told by his wife, Ally…
Jim was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in December 2017, just a few days after Christmas, after experiencing vision problems. His diagnosis brings with it the incredibly bleak prognosis of just 12 – 18 months and it seems so unfair that Jim, such a kind man who is always helping others should be dealt such a cruel blow.
“I don’t think the enormity of the news hit us straight away. The prognosis was bleak to say the least and our options were extremely limited. Without any treatment Jim had around three months and we were both in tears of disbelief that things could be so bad.”
Jim had surgery in January 2018, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre. We knew surgery could leave Jim blind but it was a necessary evil, a trade-off which we had to make. Fortunately, the side effects were minimal and, although Jim was extremely tired and sometimes sick on treatment, he got through it.
Now, Jim has regular MRI scans and fortunately, since his treatment ended in October 2018, his tumour has remained stable.
Jim and I have enjoyed many precious memories since his diagnosis. We have experienced the joy which comes with being grandparents. Callum and his partner presented us with baby Erin, who was born on 3rd January 2018 and just weeks later we welcomed baby Chester, born to Richard and his partner.
“The arrival of our grandchildren has been a wonderful blessing, a ray of sunshine in a really dark time. While it is so nice to see Jim cuddling these precious babies it is so, so hard for me to think that they are probably not going to know him as they grow up.”
Jim was recently awarded a medal for long service and good conduct, after working for the Avon and Somerset Police for 20 years. It was an incredibly moving moment to attend the awards ceremony with our family and we were all bursting with pride for all that Jim has achieved. He loved his job as a community beat manager. It kept him busy and he enjoyed helping others and being part a team of officers in a small region.
Sadly, because the tumour affected Jim’s peripheral vision, he struggles to read and consequently has had to apply for medical retirement. I’ll never forget him saying: ‘If I can’t be fully involved and effective at work, I don’t feel like I should be there’. It’s a testament to his selflessness that he would give up a job he loved for these reasons.
We find traveling a great way of seizing every moment and making the most of every day. In November 2018, we enjoyed a trip to Tenerife with our children and grandchildren. It was lovely be with the family and we were very grateful to our friends and colleagues who held a fundraising night to fund the holiday; we gathered round the pool to take a picture thanking everyone who donated.
Recently, Jim and I bought a campervan, which allows us to go on regular holidays around the UK. We try to book one at least once a month to stay positive and this gives us something to look forward to. In August 2019, we enjoyed a 1,400-mile road trip around Scotland and it was great to experience the outdoors together. We’ve also visited Devon and Cornwall and are looking forward to more holidays together.
One of the hardest parts of Jim’s illness was having to surrender his driving licence. As a former response driver in the police, he finds the loss of independence and not being able to drive friends and family members very tough. It can be difficult for me too as I have to be more organised in planning road trips and map reading – tasks which Jim once loved to do.
Jim and I try to stay positive and, alongside our holidays, fundraising for the Brain Tumour Research charity has given us focus. Shortly after Jim’s diagnosis, our very close family friend Wayne Byles, who is like a son to us, set up Canoeing for a Cure, a Fundraising Group under the umbrella of Brain Tumour Research.
“Through a series of canoeing challenges, more than £9,000 has been raised in Jim’s name and I was so proud to see Richard and Callum take part in the ‘Canoeing for a Cure’ event in September last year.”
To celebrate our fundraising achievements, I feel very privileged to be placing three tiles on a Wall of Hope at the Brain Tumour Research’s Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) on 15 May 2019. Each tile represents the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research and I will be joined by Jim, Wayne, Callum, Simon and Richard. The scientists at QMUL are specifically focused on GBM tumours so I’m interested to hear about their research and I think this will help to give us hope going forward.
The views or opinions expressed within are not necessarily those of Brain Tumour Research. This content has been shared for information purposes only. Brain Tumour Research does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor or other suitably qualified medical professional. Our member charity brainstrust can provide additional information on treatment options.