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.
You are forever in our hearts.
Recently published stories
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Diane WrightMum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and fought bravely against this. Two years later, she was given the all clear. She continued to have annual screening and was always relieved with the positive results she continued to have. Read more
Donna OsbourneDonna was healthy, apart from problems with high blood pressure which she probably inherited from her mother’s side of the family. She had been going to see the GP about it, who thought it might be a thyroid problem.
On New Year’s Eve, 2007, we were with friends and Donna felt faint and dizzy, although she didn’t actually faint. We sat her down and did all the things you do when someone feels faint. There was even a lady on hand at the party who used to be a nurse. We then decided to go home as Donna continued not feeling too good. She woke up fine the next morning.
Duncan ScottDuncan was an extremely intelligent, kind and thoughtful man. He was an avid fan of Formula 1 and Le Mans. In June 2015 he was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme. After an 18 month battle, he passed away aged 55. During the last weeks of his life he endured severe mental torture until he was admitted to a hospice where doctors and nurses were able to adjust his medication to prevent him from suffering anymore.
Here is Duncan’s story as told by his sister, Gayle:
“Duncan’s passing has left a huge hole in my life, as well as the many people whose lives he touched. His funeral was extremely well attended with many people voicing how he had “changed their lives for the better”. It seems so unfair that he was taken in his prime with so much joy to have and to give. I miss him dreadfully.” Read more
Eddy KirbyWithin a fortnight of walking one of his two beloved daughters down the aisle on her wedding day, Eddy Kirby was suddenly taken ill and after tests he was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour. It was inoperable and although he underwent treatment, Eddy’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He passed away, aged 64, on 7th March 2015, his late father’s birthday. In addition to leaving two daughters, Emma and Sarah, Eddy also left a partner Carol and his mother, Marjorie, aged 93. Read more
At the age of 38, Edward Morrison was diagnosed with a low-grade ependymoma that appeared to pose little threat. After 10 months of treatment, there were no traces of tumour left and it seemed that Edward had beaten the disease. Sadly, the tumour made an aggressive return and, despite best efforts to treat it, Edward’s life was cruelly taken away from him in January 2018.
“Edward’s stubbornness was extremely frustrating at times, but his sense of humour provided some relief from the hopelessness of the situation. One day I asked him: ‘how are you feeling?’ and he replied: ‘not as bad as the guy who signed off my medical insurance’.” Read more
Elaine Neesam-Smith’s story reminds us just how devastating a brain tumour can be and how desperately a cure must be found. In October 2017, the 52-year old collapsed and was placed in an induced coma. Little did she know, a highly aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) was the cause. The tumour was inoperable and there were no treatment options. Sadly, the much-loved mum, grandma, wife and friend, died just six months later.
“Now it’s six months on and we’re taking each day as it comes. Kieran, Paul and I are plodding along and supporting each other through our grief. Memories of Mum are everywhere and sometimes it’s a comfort and sometimes it’s too much to bear. Ellie and Heidi miss their grandma so much and they call her their ‘star in the sky’. Mum was such a doting grandma and it breaks my heart that she won’t see them grow up.”
Elizabeth PerkinsA mum of three daughters and a busy PA for Croydon Council, Elizabeth’s symptoms were initially thought to be nothing more than sinusitis, but sadly turned out to be an aggressive and incurable brain tumour.
Despite two surgeries, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a drug trial, Elizabeth lost her fight with the tumour two years later, her immune system unable to fight off a chest infection and sickness bug caught during her final round of chemo.
“The tumour changed her into a completely different person. The fierce, feisty woman that had brought me up was slowly turning into a passive pussy cat.”
Emma HalsteadMy stylish, creative, determined, positive, intelligent, adored, younger sister was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour in April 2012 when she was aged 19. She underwent a wide-awake craniotomy in November 2012. In July 2015 the tumour became malignant and aggressive and was diagnosed as a glioblastoma multiforme grade 4. Emma underwent chemo and radiotherapy, but nothing could save her. She was admitted to hospital in March 2016, just days after doing a sky dive for Brain Tumour Research. Several weeks later, there came a point when every time Emma moved she had a seizure. On 13th May 2016 she slipped peacefully away, aged just 23.
“Emma truly was an inspiration to us all. When she discovered she was ill, she adopted an attitude of: ‘I’ve got a tumour, but I’m still going to get on with life.’ This positive attitude was to stand her in good stead right up to the end. She was never afraid to ask tough questions and each time she received bad news she would quickly pick herself up and move on. One time she simply said: ‘Ok, pass me the grapes, let’s get on with it’.” Read more
The second of three children, Eva was just four years old when she was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the most deadly of all childhood brain tumours for which there is no cure. Faced with the bleakest possible prognosis, her parents fought to find treatment which would offer her more time. Sadly Eva passed away within a year, her severely damaged body succumbing to pneumonia.
“We have been plunged into this nightmare world where hardly any money goes into DIPG and yet this hideous form of brain tumour kills up to 40 children every year in the UK alone – that’s two classrooms full of infant school-aged kids. Like our daughter, these children are normal and happy until one day they fall over. Gradually their bodies shut down while maintaining complete cognitive awareness. They are fully aware until their arms and legs stop working. They become locked-in, a prisoner in their own shells – can you imagine anything worse for a fidgety and energetic five year old? Their young, healthy organs keep them going for much longer than an adult’s until, finally, they stop functioning. Our DIPG kids die a truly horrible death, slowly over months. And, as parents, we watch every minute of it with desperation and helplessness. The reality of DIPG is a living nightmare.”Read more
First-time parents Kelly and Marc Evans were overjoyed at the safe arrive of their beautiful baby daughter Evie on 9th March 2007. Their first sense that anything was wrong came when she was 18 months old. Eleven months later, after being examined in connection for repeated vomiting, a CT scan revealed a mass in Evie’s brain. She was diagnosed with an extremely rare Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour (AT/RT), most prevalent in the under-three’s. She endured surgery and treatment but passed away, with her parents at her side, on 4th November 2009. She was just two-and-a-half.Read more
Fin ChurchFundraiser, karate black belt, Guinness world record holder and Child of Courage, Fin Church lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 11. The eldest child of Penny and Wayne Church, Fin was also big brother to Kenzie and Tegan. In the 17 months after his diagnosis, Fin endured neurosurgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, taking part in trials including testing the efficacy of re-purposed drugs. In his final days, he dictated a letter in which he talked of his love for his family, his fondness of chocolate and curry, and his fear of losing the fight.
“I am ashamed to admit that there came a stage when I wished Fin had leukaemia. Surely that would be better, there were treatments and things would be OK wouldn’t they? Investment in research and increased public awareness meant leukaemia was no longer a death sentence. But where is the investment and subsequent improvement in outcomes for patients with brain tumours? As we fought as hard as we could for Fin, we were sickened to learn that the treatment for brain cancer is antiquated and barbaric, as cruel as the disease itself.”
Finnbar was a happy, active five-year-old boy, enjoying life to the full, when he started experiencing dizziness and later staggering when walking. After several trips to the GP, his family eventually got him referred. Tragically his diagnosis with a low-grade astrocytoma brain tumour, was changed a couple of months later to a more aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). His parents, Tristan and Claire, were given the devastating news that there was nothing that could be done to save their son. Just five months after being diagnosed, Finnbar passed away, just weeks before his sixth birthday.
“We are determined to see something good happen in Finnbar's name and memory. We hope that we can use our experience to make things better for other families that find themselves going through similar, heart-breaking situations, and ultimately to bring about an end to the evil of childhood brain tumours.”Read more
Fiona ReidSadly, Fiona passed away on 11th December 2017. This story was written before her passing but will be updated fully at a time appropriate for her family to whom we send our sincerest condolences.
Fitness fanatic Fiona discovered she had a brain tumour after collapsing at the gym. In the last six years she has undergone surgery and treatment as her tumour, classified as “low-grade” has continued to grow and cause paralysis. With the support of her husband, mother and friends, Fiona remains optimistic and will be supporting Wear A Hat Day 2016.
“I have known from the beginning that my tumour can’t be cured but I remain relatively optimistic. New treatments are coming out and I hope that there might be trials which I could be put forward for. My husband Andy is a very positive person. He has been a tower of strength and has kept me going. I see my mum every day and have great support from my friends.” Read more
Frank SmithMy brother, Frank, was 58 years old when we lost him to a brain tumour – two years and 10 months after he was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme.
“It seems so cruel that Frank died before his time, after all he went through during his life, losing his partner and unborn child, bringing up their two children alone, supporting Frank junior following his diagnosis with a tumour and then his very own personal battle.” Read more
Fraser CullenLittle Fraser Cullen was just three-and-a-half months old when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. He underwent surgery and his parents Vicky and Warren had to make the agonising decision whether to put him through gruelling high-dose chemotherapy which might extend his life by just months or opt for palliative care. Fraser himself helped them to make their decision by smiling at his mum as she sat in Fraser's room with the consultant giving them the news. Treatment proceeded giving the family precious time but Fraser passed away a year later.
“At first, we were dismissed as over-anxious, told our baby had a sore throat and sent home. In fact, the situation was so grave that, with or without treatment, the brain tumour meant there was just a five per cent chance that Fraser would live to see his fifth birthday. Chemo could buy us time but not much, as little as a couple of months. As the country celebrated the New Year, we were making the toughest decision any parent could face. It was so, so hard. We didn’t want to put Fraser through chemo that wasn’t going to work but of course we didn’t want to lose him. As the doctors spelt out the options I looked over at Fraser and he smiled back at me. How could I give up on him?” Read more
Gaye ChaffeA former officer in the Metropolitan Police, Gaye Chaffe was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma brain tumour in 1992. Her husband Simon supported her through two craniotomy procedures and subsequent treatment. The tumour spread to her brain stem and she passed away six years later in her husband’s arms, leaving two sons aged eight and three. Read more
Gemma EdgarGemma's story was written while she was still with us. Sadly Gemma passed away on 19th December 2018. We will update her story fully at a more suitable time. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gemma's family and all who knew her at this immeasurably sad time.
Gemma, 29, a paediatric nurse at Colchester General Hospital, and a wife and mother, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour after just a few days of migraine-type symptoms. Her sons, Noah and Dylan were just eight weeks and two years old at the time. Read more
George Michael HarrisonGeorge was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 25. He underwent surgery and married his childhood sweetheart Georgina 13 months later. Sadly his tumour returned five years later. He had radiotherapy and chemotherapy which left him partially paralysed with double vision and memory problems along with other side effects. Together with Georgina, George’s mum Sondra cared for him during his last months. He passed away with them and his sisters by his side in June 2010. Read more
Georgie BeadmanGeorgie Beadman wife, mother, daughter, and sister, died seven years after being diagnosed with a low- grade glioma. She was a talented potter who loved music and the arts. In February 2015, Georgie died at the age of 41 leaving a husband and two small children.
“It is desperately sad to think that brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer and I was shocked to learn this area receives just 1% of the national spend on cancer research. A number of the girls who Georgie met during her year as a debutante are now involved in fundraising to support vital research into brain tumours which is wonderful. We were unable to help Georgie but I am sure that we can help others.”
A loving wife, mother and grandmother, Gillian built her life around creating a happy home for her family. She lived in the Trossachs and enjoyed the natural beauty of Scotland where her husband worked as a deerstalker with the Forestry Commission. At first misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis, her anxious family were finally told she had a tumour of the central nervous system and she passed away six months later at the home she was dedicated to making.
Glendon SnapeSadly, Glendon passed away on 12th October 2017. 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.
Glendon Snape was looking forward to starting his honeymoon when he was struck with a terrible headache during the journey. Never setting foot in the hotel, Glendon, 51 from Preston, was instead rushed into hospital by ambulance from the hotel car park. The newly-weds, with four children between them, were devastated to hear that Glendon had a grade four glioblastoma multiforme, with possibly just months to live.
“When the doctors told me I had 14 months to live, my heart just sank and knowing more became an obsession; I just had to try to find a way out of the nightmare... It’s like an addiction but it’s kept me alive.”
Husband, son, father and step-father, Glenn McMahon was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma multiforme stage 4 (GBM) brain tumour after experiencing co-ordination problems on the golf course. He married Wendy in February 2014 and, knowing their time together would be cut short, the couple set about making the most of their lives through travel, socialising and their mutual love of fine food. Glenn died in June 2015 at the age of 53.
“To be told it was a brain tumour was like being hit by a bus. Glenn asked straight away how long he had and was told the short prognosis. We were devastated. We had begun to suspect Glenn might have motor neurone disease and never dreamt it would be a brain tumour. We had both been married before and having found each other now faced our future which was going to be cut short.”Read more
Godfrey ButchersHusband, step-father and grandfather, Godfrey was laid to rest on what would have been his 25th wedding anniversary. His widow Shirley chose music from their marriage ceremony for the funeral which took place near their home on the Isle of Wight. Godfrey was 71 when he passed away just ten weeks after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour.
“A proud man, Godfrey didn’t want lots of visitors or people fussing around him. He was thinking of others and wanted to spare them the pain of seeing what was happening to him. Close family came and it was a joy to see the love in his eyes as our granddaughter, who was just a few months old, sat on the bed with him.” Read more
Graham Addison was a larger-than-life character at the heart of a tight-knit family. His brain tumour diagnosis in 2015 was a terrible blow to his wife, five children and nine grandchildren, but the family remained positive as Graham responded well to surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, after a second operation Graham deteriorated rapidly and the love and support of his family couldn’t halt the aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). He passed way in September 2016, aged 66.
“Dad came out of theatre a different man and, for the first time, he was noticeably in decline. He couldn’t remember his own date of birth or even what day of the week it was. He was so brave but I remember once seeing the fear in his eyes when it dawned on him that his brain was failing him. How scary it must have been for him – to go from such a bright and intelligent man to someone who could no long remember how to use his mobile phone.”Read more
Garden designer Guy Farthing had just turned 60 when he was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour after suffering stroke-like symptoms. With surgery not an option, Guy underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Sadly, over time the tumour became more aggressive and after nearly 10 years of battling the disease, Guy died in October 2017, leaving wife Jenny, children Kathy and Mark, and granddaughter Immie.
“It wasn’t until a few months later that we received a letter through from Southampton hospital asking him to attend for a pre-assessment. On arrival, we were given a letter which knocked us for six, as it stated that, two days later, Guy would be admitted for a biopsy on his brain tumour. We arranged to speak to the surgeon for clarification as we felt they must have got it wrong or maybe the letter was supposed to be for someone else.” Read more
Holly Atkins Fooks
Holly was just 11 when she passed away in September 2017, less than two years after being diagnosed with a highly aggressive brain tumour for which there is no cure. She endured two brain surgeries; chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the maximum amount a child could be given. Her family was devastated when, despite treatment, the brain tumour grew back leaving Holly disabled and bed-bound.
“Holly always wanted to live in a camper van; she loved them, and so she travelled to the crematorium in a specially-converted camper van with pink streamers waving from the roof corners. We all wore something pink in her honour. Her casket was pink with rainbows and her floral tributes included a unicorn head. She went with her faithful Dolly and Doggy and we all sprinkled fairy dust over her casket as we said goodbye. We think she is out there somewhere in a special place, chasing unicorns and rainbows, riding ponies and making fun of us when we do silly things – just as she used to do. We will never forget her.”Read more
Holly TimbrellSadly, Holly passed away on 18th December 2017. This story was written before her passing but will be updated fully at a time appropriate for her family to whom we send our sincerest condolences.
Holly had a headache which wouldn't go away. An MRI scan revealed a brain tumour in a very inaccessible place. Now she is a teenager trying to live a normal life in between 3 monthly scans. Read more
Hugh WalkerHugh was 46 when he passed away on the 25th September 2013, just four months after diagnosis. We had been together for 20 years and married for 14 of them. Between us we had twins – George and Jasmine who were just eight years old at the time, while Hugh also had two grown up children – Joshua and Naomi from a previous relationship. We were all very close and remain so.
“During the four months Hugh survived following his diagnosis, he was a pillar of strength. He knew he was dying, yet he spent lots of time with me talking and passing on his strength. He told me his goals and what he wanted me to do with the children and for myself. He asked that he be cremated and buried under the apple tree in the garden and that a friend of his should make a bench so that we could sit there and be with him.”
Ian Lowe’s brain tumour story is yet another example of how cruel and devastating the disease often is, and how desperately a cure needs to be found. After a routine cataract operation, the 56-year-old was told the disturbing news that a mass was sitting behind his eye. Ian was then diagnosed with a large and aggressive CNS lymphoma and his treatment options were extremely bleak. Just two months later, on Valentine’s Day 2017, Ian died, leaving an irreplaceable hole in the lives of his family.
“In hindsight, Dad wasn’t quite right. He wasn’t himself. We’d be talking about one thing and he’d get confused and answer about something completely different. I guess we all just put it down to the fact he’d had a few drinks and, Dad being Dad, he just laughed it off and made a joke out of it. A moment that upsets me now, looking back, was when we said our goodbyes and he gave me such a heartfelt hug, it was as if he somehow knew he might not see me again.”Read more