In Our Hearts
Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years
These very brave people will remain in our hearts for ever and it is because of them that we are fighting to find a cure so that no other family should have to suffer in the same way.
"We thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday, and days before that too."
You are forever in our hearts.
Recently published stories
Mother-of-two, Samantha from Cowbridge in South Wales had a seizure out-of-the-blue in October 2021. She was given anti-seizure medication and doctors thought she may have encephalitis. An MRI scan confirmed a large lesion deep in her brain and she was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma. The family-of-four sought a second opinion only to be told the chance of Samantha surviving more than two years were slim. She died in December 2022.Read more
The Leavey family battled tooth and nail to prolong their daughter’s life after she was diagnosed with a diffuse midline-glioma (commonly known as DIPG) at the age of just 10. Brooke, who lived in Southampton, was given the devastating news after she developed a droop on one side of her face. She had six weeks of radiotherapy through the NHS and took part in two privately funded clinical trials. Throughout their daughter’s diagnosis the family spent £200,000 on monthly trips to New York and Germany where the clinical trials were taking place. However, the aggressiveness of the cancer took over and Brooke died 11 months later.Read more
Mike Hawthorn from Ashford, Surrey, was 26 years old when a routine eye test revealed a brain tumour in 2014. He endured numerous surgeries as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. After exhausting the NHS standard of care he had some success with the drug Avastin, which had to be privately funded. Mike lived with his meningioma for nearly eight years, and during that time he and his wife Emily had a baby boy, Edison. But the tumour suddenly regrew in April 2021, and pushed through his skull onto the outside of his head. After suffering infections and a tripling in the size of the tumour, which pushed the mass down into his neck, Mike died in July 2022.
Aaron IrvineAaron was first diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of two and a half, but not without his mother having to fight for six months to get doctors to take his symptoms seriously. The operation and subsequent radiotherapy left him with lots of physical and educational disabilities, but he got on with life and never complained. At the age of 29 his tumour came back – his mother (who has her own disabilities) had to fight to get any support for him. Aaron passed away five months later in 2011. Read more
We are grateful to Aaron and his mum, Nicola, who worked with us in December 2020 to share his story here. Sadly, he passed away in April 2023. We remember Aaron as we continue our work to raise awareness of this devastating disease and to fund research to help find a cure. He will be forever in our hearts.
In April 2020, as the UK was coming to terms with a national lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of the Wharton family from Flintshire were turned upside down for a completely different reason. Their only child, four-year-old Aaron, was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer. Brave Aaron has since undergone brain surgery, radiotherapy and has had a gastrostomy feeding tube fitted. His latest scan results were stable but Aaron’s parents know that their son’s future is uncertain and they’re determined to make the most of every day together as a family.Read more
Aaron WoodStudent Aaron Wood died at the age of 24, four years after being diagnosed with what was thought to be a low-grade brain tumour, which later turned out to be a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma. He had undergone surgery and radiotherapy, and went back to uni to complete his studies to graduate with a 2:1 in philosophy. His dying wish, for scientists to use his brain to further their knowledge of brain tumours, was fulfilled. His mum Crystal hopes that his story will inspire others to never give up.
“Aaron saved my life before he was even born. I had a car accident when I was four months pregnant and it was a wake-up call, the moment I realised I had to start taking care of myself for the sake of my unborn child. A brain tumour robbed Aaron of the prime of his life and robbed me of my sunshine. It is so painful to think he saved me by giving me something to live for and yet, 24 years later, I was unable to save him.” Read more
Welsh toddler Abigail Burrows was 21 months old when, in April 1996, she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. She died shortly after an operation to remove it, just six days after the diagnosis. Her brothers, Grant and Dale, were 13 and 11 when she died and her mum Kazzy was seven months pregnant with her younger brother Sam, who was born seven weeks to the day after her tragic death. Kazzy, originally from Swansea, but now living in Pembrokeshire, went on to have another daughter, Poppy, born in 1997 and she also has a stepson, Will, now 26. The pain of losing a child has never left her and not a day goes by when she doesn’t remember her ‘extraordinary’ little girl, Abby. This month, Kazzy, now a grandmother-of-two, is taking part in the 10,000 Steps a Day in February challenge in memory of her daughter and to help prevent other families from experiencing such devastation.Read more
Abigail LightbownThe first signs that there was anything wrong with our daughter began around the end of August 2010 when Abigail started being sick every morning. Doctors prescribed a number of different medications to treat her for acid reflux, but none seemed to help and, by the middle of October, she had lost over half a stone in weight as her appetite had diminished. It was at this point that we did briefly consider whether she had an eating disorder and even chased her upstairs on one occasion to check whether she was making herself sick.
Over the following weeks and months, Abigail underwent a series of tests, including a comprehensive examination of her eyes, but all came back clear, even the eye test, which can be a key method for indicating the presence of certain types of brain tumours.
Finally, an MRI scan was booked for 18th February 2011, but not long before this was to happen, Abigail collapsed and was taken to Bolton Royal Hospital. Doctors performed various manual dexterity tests on Abigail which all came up as normal and as the scan was booked for a few days later they decided to wait. It was only then, at the age of nine, that she was finally diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumour, around 20 weeks after we first had taken her to the GP about her vomiting.
Adam BarclayAdam and Emma met through their mutual love of cars. They had settled down with two small children, were happy at work, very much in love and engaged to be married. Despite numerous doctor’s appointments and hospital visits, Adam’s symptoms were repeatedly dismissed. By the time his brain tumour was diagnosed it was too late. He had several massive seizures and underwent emergency surgery. Adam died on New Year’s Day 2016 without regaining consciousness. He was just 27.
“Adam’s symptoms were repeatedly dismissed as nothing serious. As the brain tumour grew, he had a series of massive seizures. He went into surgery but never woke up. We had been planning our wedding but now I’m alone at 24 and my children are left without their daddy. Our lives have been destroyed and it is all so unnecessary – had he been diagnosed earlier he would still be with us now.”
We are grateful to Adam who worked with us in October 2017 to share his story here. Sadly, he passed away on 23rd December 2019. We remember Adam as we continue our work to raise awareness of this devastating disease and to fund research to help find a cure. He will be forever in our hearts.
A seizure struck Adam down out of the blue and led to his brain tumour diagnosis. He underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and was well enough to take part in a gruelling cycle challenge in the heat of the Arizona desert. He completed the event with his father who, 15 years earlier, had lost his mother to a brain tumour.
A farmer and keen hunting man, Adam was diagnosed with a high-grade glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour. Surgery was not an option and he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but passed away at home 11 months later, at the age of 42.
“Somehow Adam found the strength to cope. He was a trooper and his concern was always for others. His tumour was a grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the worst it could possibly be. I don't think Adam really knew how high-grade his tumour was, but he was aware that it was inoperable and the prognosis was bleak; he had probably just two years to live, five years at best. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy began and that took us up to March and he lived for just two months after that.”
Director Adrian Vitoria was shooting a film in the States when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He underwent surgery and self-funded pioneering new treatment, continuing to work on what was to be his final project while having chemotherapy. Adrian returned to Suffolk in the later stages of his illness. He passed away in November 2016 at the age 48.
“I don’t think people are aware of how cruel this disease is. It was torture for me to watch as Adrian was robbed of his mobility and his faculties especially as he was such a great communicator. He became bedridden, unable to even lift his head. It was an agonisingly slow decline as my brother became locked-in as the tumour grew.”Read more
Our first born child, Aidan, was just 16 months old when he first became ill. He was diagnosed with a variety of different infections, but five weeks later we were given the horrific news he had an aggressive medulloblastoma brain tumour which had also spread into his spinal cord. Aidan was given the best treatment options available at the time and fought a brave battle, but despite everything, we still lost him just one month shy of his fifth birthday. Now we want to raise awareness and help prevent other children from having to face a similar fate.
“Research into paediatric brain tumours and how to treat them effectively is the only thing that can save the lives of other children like Aidan. A greater understanding of how the different tumour cells develop, as well as discovering more effective treatments that target those specific cells, will not only reduce mortality, but will also improve the quality of life of children who survive brain tumours.”Read more