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In Our Hearts

Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years

The diagnosis of a brain tumour is devastating for the patient, their family and friends. 

For these people life will never be the same again.

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.
Anon

You are forever in our hearts.                                                         

Recently published stories

Premila Patel

Premila Patel died two years after being diagnosed with a tumour in her left frontal lobe. In hindsight, her daughters believe the disease had been there for many years, if not decades, and that Premila’s changing personality may have been a result of it. The 67-year-old left a gift in her will to Brain Tumour Research in the hope that future generations won’t have to endure this devastating disease.

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Rachael Sherlock

Rachael Sherlock was a fun-loving, sociable five-year-old whose life was cruelly cut short by a brain tumour. At such a young age, she underwent an operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Rachael died in 1985, leaving her mum Julie, dad Tony, and little sister Hannah; she was never able to meet her youngest siblings David and Rebecca. Then, thirty years on from Rachael’s death, the family faced further devastation, when David was also diagnosed with the disease at the age of 26.

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Andrew Atkinson-Whitton

Andrew Atkinson-Whitton loved life. In his 37 years, he touched so many lives with his infectious smile and happy-go lucky nature. Andrew kept smiling even when he was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and had to undergo intensive surgery and treatment but the tumour was too aggressive. He died 20 July 2018, just 14 months after diagnosis, leaving his husband Carl, mum Jill and brother Robert.

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All stories

Bill Foulkes

Bill grew up on the Hamble River in the family boatyard, so it was hardly surprising he had a passion for the River, nor that boats were in his blood.  He started a chandlery business called Aladdin’s Cave on the Hamble over 40 years ago and ended up owning all the chandleries on the River.  

Later in life he discovered golf and it became a great source of enjoyment for him.  He organised a Golf Day each year for the Marine trade, which we revived last year after a two year absence.
 
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Brian Cross


Brian lived in Gressenhall near Dereham, Norfolk and was a great family man and a wonderful husband.  He had three children – Camilla from his first marriage and Rosie and Tom from our marriage.  He cared deeply about each one of them and was particularly protective about Camilla who suffered badly with asthma and eczema from an early age.  Brian was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma brain tumour and passed away almost a year later, aged 62, on 23rd September 2006.

Here is Brian’s story as told by his wife, Sally…

“Brian knew he was going to die.  There were still lots of things he wanted to do, but he was at peace with himself, which was a huge comfort to me.  We used to sit together in the garden and he would tell me everything he wanted me to do with the children and his businesses after he had gone.  He was an amazing man, even in the last year when he was dying.”

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Brian Rockell

Brain's story was written while he was still with us. Sadly Brian passed away at the end of November 2018. We will update his story fully at a more suitable time. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Fay and their family at this immeasurably sad time.

Brian Rockell has worked within the healthcare industry for decades, yet when he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, aged 68, he was shocked by the distressing experience of brain tumour patients. Although facing his own anxieties and challenges, Brian is now determined to campaign for and support others affected by this devastating disease.

“I was transferred to the Royal Sussex County Hospital for surgery…. and it went relatively well. Looking back, the surgery was the easy part. I had no idea then how much support I would need as a patient and how different my life was about to become...”

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Carol Cooper

Carol was a much loved sister and daughter and mother of grown-up twin sons, Simon and Mark.   She had a really caring nature, so it was hardly surprising that for over 20 years she worked with the mentally ill.  But, at the age of 53, within the space of six short weeks, Carol was diagnosed with a brain tumour and passed away.

Here is Carol’s story…

“When Carol passed away, I was shocked at how many people develop brain tumours and how many of them are children.  I have since visited the Brain Tumour Research funded research centre in Portsmouth and discovered how underfunded research into brain tumours is and the cost of everything – particularly all the extremely complex, technical pieces of equipment…

“I have chosen to support Brain Tumour Research as my charity of the year and would like to be able to sponsor a day or MORE of research and put the Tangent logo and Carol’s name on the Wall of Hope and help to build on the number of brain tumour research centres throughout the country.”

 
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Caroline Cronin

Marine biologist Caroline Cronin’s biggest wish after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour was to get back to work. There were two things she felt she still wanted to achieve – to get married and have a baby. She defied expectations to achieve both and the family were able to spend precious months at home together before Caroline passed away in October 2013 at the age of 32, leaving her husband Marcus and their six-month-old daughter Florence.
  
“The few times that Caroline allowed anyone to see her upset about her condition was when she worried about how her illness affected others. We both desperately wanted to be married and felt blessed to have a baby together. The grieving process takes a long time but knowing Caroline was able to do the two things she most wanted makes it a bit easier. We had been through so many very difficult times together and, when Caroline died, I was just grateful that it was as she had wished. I held her hand as she passed away at home. The first thing I did was to hold Florence and, in a way, it meant I didn’t feel as if I had lost Caroline completely as I had our baby.”
 
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Caroline Foster

Caroline was initially diagnosed as having depression (which was something she had suffered before) and then a breakdown.  Her husband, Andy, first noticed something wrong after Christmas when Caroline just didn’t seem herself, wasn’t focusing on things and wasn’t caring for herself.  

By the time Caroline became incontinent, she was assessed by health workers and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where she spent a week before having to leave as the hospital couldn’t provide the level of care she needed - by then she was unable to do anything for herself and even had to be moved with the use of hoists.  There had been no improvement in Caroline’s condition, even with medication and therapy.  
 
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Cat Anderson

In August 2014, a CT scan revealed that Cat, aged 36 and the mother of Robert, 15, had a brain tumour. Following surgery and a biopsy, the devastating news came back that the tumour was in fact cancerous – suggestive of a metastatic spread, but, on a positive note, was a grade 2, slow-growing type of tumour. Just a few short months later, with Cat experiencing headaches again, further surgery revealed the earth-shattering reality that the tumour had progressed from grade 2 to grade 4. Cat’s family and friends all rallied round to help and to fundraise, resulting in the setting up of a fundraising group called Cat in a Hat. Tragically, by the spring of 2017, Cat was no longer responding to any treatments available. She passed away on 14th June that year.

“I started to think Cat would beat the brain tumour or, if not, at least keep it at bay for many years due to her strength and positive attitude. I even found that Cat’s brain tumour wasn’t always the last thing I thought about at night or the first thing I thought about when I awoke.”

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Charlie Carter-Bates

Charlie was six years old when he was finally diagnosed with a GBM4 brain tumour after months of “migraines” accompanied sometimes with projectile vomiting and instances of eye pain.  His parents were told that his chance of survival was 25%, although they later found out that it was a lot less.

“The day of the scan was the day our lives changed forever and was the worst day of our lives so far…   I remember the feeling of utter despair.  I can’t even explain the feeling – it was the most horrendous pain.”
 
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Charlotte Barber

Charlotte Barber defied the odds, living for 29 years after her brain tumour diagnosis when she had been given a 30% chance of surviving past the age of 13. She underwent treatment, which was cutting-edge for its time, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the late 80s, paving the way for future patients, and was part of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. Despite overcoming many hurdles and learning to live with the debilitating side effects of the disease, Charlotte sadly died on 17th May 2018 at the age of 37. Her mum Julie reflects on Charlotte’s journey and her desire to contribute to research in Charlotte’s memory.

“Her consultant has since told us that Charlotte was a pathfinder and a hero, and those undergoing treatment today owed her a great deal. She was a hero and my heart burst with pride to hear someone else say it. Her childhood was taken away from her by this cruel disease but she never once complained and that smile never faltered.”

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Christine Scott

Christine Scott was diagnosed with a low-grade oligodendroglioma in 2011. Her prognosis was good and, despite epilepsy, she continued with a normal life – even continuing to ride her beloved horses. After five years however, the tumour became aggressive and even though she underwent surgery and treatment, Christine deteriorated. She died in 2018, aged 58, leaving her husband, five children, a granddaughter of less than one year, two horses and a dog.

“Over the course of the year, she went from walking normally to relying on a walking stick to a Zimmer frame to a wheelchair. Determined as ever, Christine had kept trying to ride throughout all of this – even if it was just sitting on the horses while being led around a paddock – but in summer 2017 she had to stop. Although she dealt with her illness fairly well, not being able to ride was extremely difficult for her.”

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Christopher Todd

Husband, father, and grandfather, Christopher Todd was 63 when he was diagnosed with an aggressive grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour after suffering violent headaches and stroke-like symptoms. As he underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy his daughter Vicky set about raising funding for research to help get him better. With the support of his family, Christopher fought his illness but passed away in hospital in November 2016 at the age of 65.

“When dad was diagnosed I just couldn’t understand how this could happen. How can so many people have brain tumours yet so little be known? I was flabbergasted to learn that brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet receive so little funding. How can it be right that just 1% of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to this devastating disease? I cannot sit by and let this happen so I set about fundraising for Brain Tumour Research to help my dad get better.”
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Claire Airzee

As a great-great grandmother, Claire’s pride and joy was her family and, aged 84, she was still able to drive, cook and care for friends and relatives. But, in November 2017, she suffered a seizure. Diagnosed with several brain tumours, her illness had irreversible effects on her personality and towards the end of her life she wasn’t even able to recognise her children. Since losing her mum, Claire’s daughter Amanda has fundraised for the Brain Tumour Research charity, and she is determined to raise awareness of how dreadful the disease can be.

“When Mum was discharged from hospital, it was horrible to see how badly the tumours affected her. She could no longer do the things she loved; she didn’t read, she struggled to make a cup of tea, and, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t even put letters in the boxes of her daily crossword. Her whole life was turned upside down.”

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Claire Hollister

My darling daughter, Claire, had her life cut short by a brain tumour - the very same disease which had killed my sister, Valerie, 10 years previously.  Claire was just 30 years old when she passed away, just 14 months after diagnosis with a grade IV gliosarcoma.

“It was at this point I realised the “small lump” must be life threatening.  It all felt so unreal - to go from everything being so normal and then there we were looking this deadly disease in the eye.”
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Clive Gathercole

Husband and father of four boys, Clive Gathercole was eventually diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour after suffering months of health problems. He died in August 2012.

“In my anger I thought about complaining about the terrible care we received and the problems with securing a proper diagnosis, but I am not sure looking back at the past negatively is helpful, so instead as a family we are forging ahead with our fundraising plans to fund more research into brain tumours. I would hate to think of other families facing what we have been through, and think the lack of awareness of this disease is a tragedy in its own right.”
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Colin Shaw


Passionate flat-green bowler Colin Shaw was 69 years old and 11 years into his retirement when he collapsed unexpectedly.  Initially thinking it was a reaction to malaria tablets taken in preparation for a forthcoming holiday, he and his wife were shocked to learn that he had an aggressive grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour.

With a second tumour discovered nine months later, Colin lost his fight only 18 months after the first diagnosis, with his family all around him.

“If there is such a thing as a perfect death, Colin had it.  We were all there, me and our three daughters, when he quietly slipped away.”

 
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Collette Drifte

Freelance writer and loving wife Collette had plans for a blissful retirement with her husband of 29 years, Reinhard. However, after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme in August 2016, her dreams of travelling and relaxing were tragically cut short. She faced her illness with optimism and courage, bringing laughter to all those around her, until she sadly passed away at the age of 65 with her husband at her bedside.

I could see that she was drifting away from us and, as she slipped into a coma, the feeling of powerlessness was overwhelming. I had done all I could to help her. I was woken up by the night nurse who told me Collette was about to die. I’m grateful that this allowed me to be with my wonderful wife for one last time.

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Danny Green

The Danny Green Fund was set up when his parents lost their gorgeous son Danny at the age of 11. Before he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, their beautiful, fun loving and energetic son was a typical 10-year-old in every way, very much living for the moment and enjoying life. Tragically, Danny died just nine months after diagnosis, leaving a void which will never be filled.

“Our hearts are broken and can never be repaired. To lose a child is unbearable and should not happen. Danny is the inspiration for our charity: to raise funds to help children with Posterior Fossa Syndrome, which was Danny’s main battle on a daily basis, to fund research to help find a cure, as well as to raise awareness of this devastating disease to hopefully prevent other children from suffering as Danny did...”

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Danny Horton

My brother, Danny, was a healthy, sporty, fun-loving young man but in 2010 he passed away, aged 36, with an astrocytoma brain tumour.  Just six months later in the same year, my wife, Maddie, lost her father to the same cruel disease.

“Danny passed away nine years after his diagnosis, aged 36
 – yet another tragic example of the stark fact that more children and adults under the age of 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer.  He walked his brain tumour path on his own, living with a gun to his head.  
It makes me think all the more of him.”

 
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Darel Bryan

Darel was 33 years old and in the prime of his life when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in December 2014. Previously extremely healthy and active, it was a complete shock and devastating to his family and his beloved partner of 12 years, Natalie. Darel bravely fought this aggressive disease for 15 months, but sadly lost his battle on 26th February 2016.

“The clinical nurse specialists at the meeting told us not to look his diagnosis up… I was to discover that GBM is a monster; it is relentless and an utterly cruel disease. It not only robs you of who you are, it robbed Darel and me of our future together.”
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Daryl Owens

Daryl Owens was diagnosed with a grade 3 astrocytoma when he was 34 years old. He always stayed positive, approaching everything with a sense of humour, and his condition at one point stabilised. After two years however, Daryl began to deteriorate and in October 2018, three years since his diagnosis, he passed away with his wife Jude and his parents by his side.

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Dave O'Donoghue

Husband, father, and grandfather, Dave O'Donoghue, was 59 when he was diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour, after suffering from severe headaches. Though he underwent surgery and radiotherapy, Dave sadly passed away less than four months after diagnosis, missing his milestone 60th birthday by a matter of weeks. This year marks 10 years since his passing.

“After what seemed like hours waiting in silence for the consultant to arrive, he came in and did not delay giving the diagnosis. Dad had a grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a very aggressive tumour and it was going to end his life within the next three months. We all sat there in shock at the news we had just heard, trying to piece it all together. My mum fled the room in tears while I just sat there in silence with my dad. His only question was if he would make his 60th birthday on the 13th July. The consultant paused, shook his head and said ‘I’m so sorry’.”

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David Flockhart

Professor of Medicine, Genetics and Pharmacology and Director of the Institute of Personalised Medicine at Indiana University in the USA, David Flockhart devoted his career to pioneering breakthroughs against cancer. 

Having lost his mother and cousin to glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumours, it was unfortunate when David found himself battling a GBM, a cancer where he felt that conventional treatment had not changed in 50 years.  Knowing that his prognosis was poor, David wanted to communicate his medical knowledge widely, and through his broadcasting work, let others understand what it was like to live with the devastating effects of a brain tumour before he died.

“My brother was convinced that there had to be a genetic link, or at least a predisposition, to brain tumours in our family.  Three of them, all in my mother’s blood line, diagnosed with GBM.”
 
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David Grant

Sadly, David passed away. This story was written before his passing but will be updated fully at a time appropriate for his family to whom we send our sincerest condolences.

David Grant was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme grade IV brain tumour in August 2005. He was working as a Senior Project Manager for the Royal Bank of Scotland and married with a two-year-old daughter at the time. David was told he could have just 12 months to live. Fast forward to today: David hasn’t received cancer medication since 2006 and is now watching his daughter growing up.
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David Hetherington

Husband and father-of-two David was just 39 when he died. He was initially diagnosed with a low-grade oligoastrocytoma brain tumour when his wife was 31 weeks pregnant with their first child. He underwent gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy and also had immunotherapy in a bid to arrest the growth of the tumour which over time changed to a grade four glioblastoma. He passed away in November 2016.

“David was dying and there was nothing more which could be done. He had been in 24 hour intensive care and now I was being 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.”

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David Kingston

David Kingston sadly passed away on Friday 9th November. We will update his story fully at a more suitable time. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Kim and their family at this very sad time. 

Software sales manager David Kingston was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour nine years ago. He underwent surgery and follow-up treatment and now faces more chemotherapy after his tumour began to regrow, this time designated as high-grade. He is married with two children and endured the loss of his 20-year-old daughter to the genetic condition cystic fibrosis four years ago.

“This is my life, this is the hand I have been dealt and I have to get on and live it as best I can. I am determined not to let my illness define me or rule my life. My wife has been incredible, having always been by my side. Thanks to her, and the amazing group of friends we have, it is overwhelming to feel their constant love and support. With the introduction of social media, one of the sweetest things is when someone gets in touch after 25 years and wants to know how I am coping.”

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David Leatherbarrow

Dave was just 34 and with two daughters aged five and two when he died from an aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in January 2015. Previously fit and healthy, his wife Diane felt he was taken away from them bit by bit as radiotherapy and chemotherapy changed him physically and mentally.

“Jessica was just a baby but it was so hard for Charlie and I tried to explain that daddy’s medicine was to blame. It got to the stage where not only was he behaving like someone else, he looked like someone else too. Dave was a big man, 6ft 1ins tall and toned. During his treatment he put on around five stones in weight and ballooned to around 19 stones. He needed all new clothes and even then wasn’t comfortable in anything. Despite this, he was still the person I loved more than anything and it was so hard to see him struggle with the physical and mental changes when, other than be there when he needed me, there was nothing more I could do.”
 
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Dean Wood

Dean was a healthy man who worked hard (up to 60 hours per week) as a builder, and then enjoyed a drink and playing pranks.  He loved his family and was very loyal to his friends – he had the same best friend since the age of seven.  When Dean was 27 he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme grade IV which he fought with so much courage and his indomitable sense of humour; nevertheless he was cruelly taken from us just seven months later. 

“Dean will always remain in our thoughts and in our lives and we talk about him daily.  We don’t want to shy away from the scary parts of this illness; we want everybody to see how brave Dean was.  We, as a family, promise to continue the fight against brain tumours in his honour.”
 
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Debbie Coulson

Debbie was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour just a short while after getting together with her partner Phil Holding, who she met at work. Having private health cover, Debbie underwent surgery and was treated at Harley Street Clinic, but survived just 13 months after diagnosis, passing away seven weeks before her daughter Vicky’s wedding, which she had been so involved in planning.

“Straightaway, I knew what was coming; I recognised the signs from when I lost my mum nine years previously. I checked with a nurse and she confirmed the worst. At 7am I called Debbie’s family and by 9am her brothers and sisters, her son, and mum and dad had all arrived. At midday on 21 July 2018, Debbie passed away, aged 58, with all of us by her side. Sadly, her daughter, who had been away on her ‘hen’ weekend arrived an hour too late.”

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Derek Lovatt

Derek Lovatt was a popular Burton Upon Trent photographer whose life was cut short by a brain tumour at the age of 56. Though his death in 2001 left a devastating hole in the hearts of his wife Jennifer and their three children Chris, Ellen and Richard, he created lasting memories for his family to cherish. Ellen, 44, is now taking part in the Brain Tumour Research charity’s On Yer Bike campaign, and through fundraising she ensures her dad’s legacy lives on.

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Diana Ford

In the beginning Diana only had very vague symptoms like never seeming to have enough sleep, or having a bit of a headache.  But as her youngest child, Finlay, was just two years old neither she, nor the family took it seriously.  However, around Christmas-time, there were various odd things which didn’t seem to stack up.  Diana seemed a bit vague, like she was not really listening, and not always understanding.  

Then came a week when Diana felt quite unwell and stayed in bed.  On the second day she got up to go to the GP who suggested she go to the hospital for blood tests, which she did with difficulty.  By Friday when Diana was leaving cups of tea untouched and complaining she had such a headache, I became really concerned.  I called the doctor and insisted he came out to her and I also called her husband, Nick and suggested he came home.  I thought Diana was having a mental breakdown or was very ill.
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