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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.

You are forever in our hearts.                                                         

Recently published stories

Tom McEntee

Tom McEntee, a banker who lived in Epsom, died just two years after his diagnosis with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – a highly aggressive type of tumour – in November 2015, despite enduring several operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He was 67 and left his wife Anne, their three children Niamh, Owen and Colette, and five grandchildren. Read more

Bob Witherspoon

Diagnosed with a multifocal grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in December 2018, 71-year-old Bob Witherspoon from Whitley Bay lost his life to this aggressive brain tumour just four months later. At his funeral, rather than flowers, his family requested a collection for Brain Tumour Research. Having raised over £700 to help fund research to prevent other families from going through the pain they have suffered, they now want to raise awareness of this cruel disease, by sharing their heart-breaking experience. 

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Katie Dean

Katie Dean was just six years old when she died of a brain tumour. Her diagnosis came after suffering from terrible headaches, which were dismissed as migraines for several months. Though it’s been 16 years since Katie died in July 2003 her dad Scott, an officer with Staffordshire Police, still remembers losing his darling daughter as if it were yesterday. Read more

All stories

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.”

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Holly Timbrell

Sadly, 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.
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Hugh Walker

Hugh 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.”
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Ian Lowe

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.”

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Ian Meek

In 1995 Ian was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  Married to Sally with three children, Ian counted himself one of the lucky ones because he survived so long.  In 2009 the tumour turned cancerous and he had to undergo an operation to remove part of it and then undergo a fairly intensive period of chemotherapy whilst training for the famous three peaks challenge, which became known as Meek’s Peaks.  Sadly Ian passed away on 1st August 2012 leaving a legacy of research at Leeds University having raised over £105,000.

Ian Walsh

Former fireman and pub landlord Ian Walsh was taken ill at Christmas and, within a month, he was diagnosed with a high-grade glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour. He passed away in August 2015, just four months after marrying his “soul mate” and long-term partner Glenda.

“The doctors tried to ensure he had the best quality of life for as long as possible. The day we got married was a bitter sweet occasion; you marry someone for life and I now realise we should have done it years ago. We had been together for a long time and kept putting it off, saying next year ...”
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Ian White

Ian was only 41 years old when he passed away, just three months after learning he had an aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM4).  His passion for riding and specifically the sport of eventing, led his widow, Kathryn, to establish the Ian White Memorial Trophy.  This is presented each August during the Smith’s Lawn horse trials in Windsor Great Park to the best amateur event rider.

Ian was then transferred to the John Radcliffe in Oxford where he underwent a biopsy – we had already been told that he wouldn’t have surgery because of the position of the tumour.  Until this point we clung on to thinking that there would be some hope, but when we were given the results of the biopsy, that Ian had a high- grade glioblastoma multiforme (GBM4), we both knew this was it.  We saw the consultant together.  He was quite clear that Ian couldn’t be cured…”

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Ieuan Jones

Based in Dubai with his wife, Kelly, and a successful trainer for Emirates airline, Ieuan displayed very uncommon symptoms ahead of the discovery of his tumour.

With the devastating news that he had an aggressive GBM, Ieuan and his family relocated back to Wales, and he lost his fight less than two years later.

“That Christmas, I bought Ieu a star.  We named it “Daddy’s Star” and we told Sienna that when he was no longer around, she could look up in the sky and the brightest star would be the one he was sitting on.”
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Isabella Coomber

Diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 14 months, Isabella defied the odds to outlive her prognosis before she passed away aged five, at home in her mother’s arms, with her three doting sisters kissing her goodbye. Despite her illness, Isabella remained a happy child who loved to sing and dance, to play with her dolls and feel the wind in her hair. She went to school whenever she could and is much missed by so many.

“It was very touching that, as the funeral procession passed school, the teachers were standing by the fence and her classmates were in the playground, calling out ‘Here’s Isabella’ and waving. I don’t feel angry about what happened but I do feel a great sense of sadness that Isabella didn’t get the chance to grow up. I will be forever grateful for the doctor’s honesty which allowed me to accept that, sometimes you have to settle for quality of life rather than quantity, and this allowed me to ensure we gave her the best life possible.”

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Jack D'Lima

Jack was only a toddler when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour but, despite battling for his life for more than eight years, he lost the fight.  His parents feel consumed and suffocated by the emptiness they are left with, but they have to pick up the shattered pieces and rebuild their lives for the sake of their other two sons. Read more

Jacob James-Pryce

Baby Jacob was born on 29th November 2014, a second child for Julie and Andy and a beloved brother to Jessica who was just two. Initially diagnosed with a respiratory infection, Jacob’s condition deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital where an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumour was discovered. He underwent surgery but died two days later. He was just three months old.                                                                                   

“To lose a child is the worst possible thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. We talk about Jacob every day, Jessica says good morning and goodnight to him and chats about him as she rides her bike, imagining he would be doing the same thing. We knew nothing about brain tumours before this happened. Now they are a part of our lives. It doesn’t make sense to think that brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to this devastating disease. Jacob had his whole life ahead of him. If anything good is to come out of this it will be that more money will be invested in research.”
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James Campling

Inspirational friend, son and hero Corporal James Campling was diagnosed with a brain tumour in June 2016. Despite this diagnosis, James, along with family, friends and comrades, was able to raise over £30,000 for Brain Tumour Research.

This continued James’ life-long devotion to those in need, whether through his career as a Royal Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation Specialist or his charitable work for a range of good causes, from educating children in Malawi to fundraising for The Blue Cross.

James passed away on 10th April 2018 and was honoured with a military funeral.

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James Manning

James just wanted to carry on as normal after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but still managed to make his 4am shifts at work, providing for his wife Samantha and their two young children. James saw his favourite band Guns N’ Roses just a short time after leaving hospital in 2017.  He suffered dreadful personality changes at the hands of his tumour together with memory and speech difficulties.  He will always be remembered as a gentle giant and a loving dad. 

“The doctors reassured us that James’ tumour wasn’t aggressive, and there was no immediate rush to operate, but deep down I feared that it would never be cured and we could one day lose him. I was angry at myself for not recognising the signs. The headaches, sickness, the personality changes; all that time we never imagined that James had a brain tumour.”

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Jane Packer

Jane Packer was busy revolutionising the world of floristry and raising a family when she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour that turned out to be a glioblastoma grade 4. Following gruelling treatment, Jane was able to return to work and live a normal life until a stroke six years later heralded the return of the tumour. After she passed away in 2011, her husband, Gary Wallis, set up the Jane Packer Foundation in her memory.     

“During the years of her illness, we busily researched the treatment options available and were shocked to find out that brain tumour research was so seriously underfunded in the UK.”

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Janet Copland

When charity volunteer Janet Copland, 74, started getting confused and forgetful over Christmas 2013, her husband and two daughters initially thought it was dementia. The family were devastated to be told that her symptoms were actually caused by an aggressive brain tumour that required urgent surgery. Janet’s early optimism was later dimmed by radiotherapy and rapid decline. She died just eight months later.

“We lost my mother in eight months but the tumour took hold before any of us were aware what was happening. Life can change at any moment.”

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Janet Disney

Wife, mother and grandmother Janet Disney passed away just weeks after being diagnosed with a primary malignant brain tumour. She had lived her whole life in Wellington, Somerset, and was married to Steve for 36 years. The couple were members of the United Reformed Church and Janet, a keen baker who loved her holidays, was 74 when she died in June 2015.
“We had to wait for the scan results. We told the consultant we were due to go away for a few days to our caravan and it was agreed we should still go. As it happened, we were on our way to Dorset when the call came. It was devastating and I was in tears as I was told that Janet had an inoperable brain tumour on the left hand side and that, eventually, her right side would diminish. In fact, her whole body was affected for the last six weeks or so of her life. She relied on me completely for the last month and, as any husband would, I did everything for her.”

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Janette "Jay" Sherrell

Jay Sherrell passed away in May 2015, a little over three years after being diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme. She was 43 and left two young children, an identical twin sister, an older brother and sister plus her mum.

“Although we had known for some time that this moment was coming, I was still extremely shocked when Jay died and, to start with, didn’t really cope at all. I truly felt as if I had lost my shadow. It was as if someone had cut off my arm. I still dream about her a lot and have flashbacks of the times that we were teenagers doing silly things. I talk to her all the time as if she is still here with me. Of course I miss her like mad but I see her every day when I look in the mirror.”
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Jayendra V Patel

Dad, or JV (as he was always known), found out he had a grade IV glioblastoma multiforme in his temporal lobe on his birthday and two weeks before his eldest daughter was due to get married.  Just over a year later, his immediate family were all present when JV died.

“Mum is overwhelmed with the amount of help she is now receiving from the local community since my father’s death.  She and Dad were one of the first Indian families to settle in Bristol.  Everyone is doing as much as they can to fundraise so that ultimately a cure can be found for brain tumours and so that other families will not have to endure watching their loved one deteriorate and die like we did.”
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Jeffrey Grey

Jeffrey was diagnosed on 14th February 2012.  Valentine’s Day will never be the same again for me.  

We had already noticed that Jeffrey’s speech was a little strange and that he was having some issues with his balance.  He had also started struggling to complete the time sheets for his local council job.  It was thought he had suffered a mini-stroke so it was a real shock when Jeffrey went for a scan to discover he actually had a brain tumour.  When I saw the scan I knew straight away – I had seen his father’s MRI scan two years earlier and his tumour and I recognised it immediately.
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Jessica Hoffman

Newly-qualified teacher Jessica Hoffman, 23, initially laughed off forgetting the names of the children in her class, sending nonsensical texts and having a heightened sense of smell. Jessica was completely shocked to discover that she had an aggressive brain tumour and needed urgent treatment. Jessica managed to get her life back on track for another two years before the tumour returned. She endured five surgeries in just one year, but it was too late and she died in May 2016.

 “Jess wasn’t given a prognosis but I knew from the internet that “long-term” GBM survival could mean just two years after diagnosis. I told myself that if everyone was predictable then they would be able to cure it. Jessica was young and healthy, she wasn’t going to be an average statistic.”

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Joe Wilson

Our son Joe was only eight when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent surgery. He recovered well and we managed to get on with life despite the anxiety of knowing there was a high chance the tumour would come back. Joe was so positive and carried on even when he had to undergo radiotherapy at 13. Joe left home and started a new life at university. Within months he suffered a seizure and never fully recovered. He was 20 when he died at home with his fiancé of two weeks and us at his bedside.

“Joe’s brain tumour dominated the whole of his adult life. Despite everything he remained outgoing and managed to keep his positive outlook, he had a great love of life. He had just started at university when his tumour came back with a vengeance. He had met a great girl who he loved and they got engaged two weeks before he passed away with his head on my shoulder and surrounded by those he loved.”
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Joel Evan Green

Joel was just a year old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Born into a large and loving Christian family, Joel defied expectations but was eventually lost at just four years old. Now his parents Ryan and Amy, together with Joel’s four siblings, are remembering the little boy in a most remarkable way. They have developed a video game which allows players to experience the highs and lows of Joel’s cancer journey through the interactivity that only a video game can offer.

“Life is very game-like. Fighting cancer is like a game because you’re trying to do just enough to kill the cancer but not hurt the child. You balance all the options. And it is a multiplayer game because you have doctors, nurses and family all involved in this process of trying to keep your child alive. There are puzzles, as well as simple mechanical tasks like administering medication, taking blood pressure, giving him food – or making him laugh. The difference is that, in a game, if you’ve mastered the skillset, you can beat the level. That’s where the comparison stops.”
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John Annis

Devoted husband and dad John Annis was diagnosed with a grade IV glioblastoma brain tumour in December 2013. One year later, he lost his life after collapsing in the shower room at home in the arms of his wife Julie. He was 48. John and Julie were teenage sweethearts and had been married for 27 years. Their daughter Sophie was just eight when she lost her dad. 

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John Fulcher

John Fulcher was taken ill on a business trip to Canada. He was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma brain tumour and, together with his wife and accompanied by a nurse, was flown home to the UK. Under the care of Kevin O’Neill, consultant neurosurgeon at Charing Cross, John underwent several surgeries but died ten months later. His widow Wendy is chair of the charity Brain Tumour Research.   

“While John was ill and after his death I learnt how little was known about brain tumours and how little research funding was available. Brain tumour research was seriously under-funded and I was shocked to learn there was no national charity dedicated to this area. I am proud to say that the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence opened in September 2015, is part of John’s legacy. It would not have happened without him or without his surgeon Kevin O’Neill.”
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John McCabe CBE

Composer, pianist and former Director of the London College of Music, John McCabe CBE was lost to a brain tumour on 13th February 2015, just weeks before his 76th birthday. He had been married to Monica for 40 years and lived in Kent. John was widely loved and respected across the world of classical music.

His wife Monica tells his story …
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John McMahon

John was looking forward to a long and happy retirement with his wife Judith. Previously fit and well, he began experiencing seizures and was later diagnosed with a low- grade glioblastoma brain tumour. Within months the tumour had changed to an aggressive grade IV and he underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy. He defied expectations to live for three-and-a-half years, losing his battle in June 2014.

Here, his wife Judith tells his story …
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John Pettyfer

John was just 51 years old when his life was cut short by a glioblastoma multiforme, but right up to his last few days he continued to think of and care for his family and animals, rather than dwell on himself.  He was a very brave man who kept everyone entertained with wonderful anecdotes and his great sense of humour.

Here is John’s story…

“My Dad died in the early hours of Monday 25th July 2011.  The whole family was aware that an eerie silence had fallen, that there was no dawn chorus, not one cockerel crowed…   And when I went out to tend his animals, my Dad’s favourite cockerel was dead, and the single ferret he owned was missing from her cage.  We like to think he took them with him.

“Life sometimes makes no sense and most certainly not in this case.  My Dad was far too young to go at just 51 years old.  But Dad, you were never beaten!  We believe you just had somewhere else you needed to be.”
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John Riches

After experiencing slurred speech and severe neck pain, farmer, dad and grandad John Riches was diagnosed with an inoperable grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a very aggressive form of brain tumour, in 2001. He died less than a year later, aged 58.                                                        

“I called home one night to see how they both were and asked if dad was free to talk, to which dad shouted ‘I’ll speak to him tomorrow’ over the sound of the TV show, Have I Got News for You. Sadly, I never did get to speak to him the next day.”

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Jon Winn

Father-of-five Jon Winn died after a five year battle with a brain tumour he didn’t even know he had. The glioblastoma mulitforme (GBM) which took his life wasn’t diagnosed until after his death. His partner is angry that he was misdiagnosed and endured a nightmare five years struggling to get answers.
“As the months went by, Jon continued to go downhill and I had to give up work to look after him. Jon lost his speech and it became difficult for him to move around. He could no longer play football with the boys. I did my best to see that we could still do things as a family.”
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Judith Slinn

Qualified pharmacist, part-time teacher, wife and mum to two teenagers, Judith Slinn was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour after experiencing problems with her speech. She had radiotherapy and later underwent surgery and chemo when the tumour recurred. Judith spent her last weeks in a hospice with her family at her bedside and passed away in May 2016 at the age of 54.

“Mum went for an MRI which revealed she had a ‘growth’ on her brain. I can remember exactly how and when I was told. Dad took me for a walk outside the hospital and broke the news but the reality didn’t sink in until later. I wasn’t even thinking about cancer, it was just too much and too awful to comprehend. Somehow, Dad managed to remain calm. Even then we didn’t think things were really bad but that it would be dealt with and everything would be OK. We didn’t think it was serious and certainly never thought she would die from it.

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