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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.


Anon

You are forever in our hearts.

Recently published stories

Ava Ball

Ava’s mother was alarmed to find a lump on the back of her two-month-old baby’s head, but was told by her GP it was a soft spot. The lump had grown to the size of a tennis ball when Ava finally had an MRI scan, aged seven months. A biopsy determined the lump was a primary malignant melanocytic brain tumour with intra as well as extra-cranial components. After surgery, there was nothing more which could be done to save little Ava and she passed away in her mummy’s arms, aged just eight months.

 

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Andrew Williams

Andy married his childhood sweetheart and together they had two children and a lovely life. But then Andy started shaking uncontrollably, leading eventually to his diagnosis with an inoperable and incurable DIPG brain tumour, much more common among children. Radiotherapy changed his personality and his marriage broke down. Andy passed away three and a half years after his diagnosis, aged 33.

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Sue Davies

Sue’s career took her from shorthand typist to HR director. She found her soul-mate in Mark who also loved the great outdoors and together they had a wonderful son, but Sue was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour which killed her just 15 months later aged 55. Six months after Sue’s diagnosis, Mark was diagnosed with blood cancer.

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All stories

Barry Albin-Dyer OBE

When respected Bermondsey undertaker and family man, Barry Albin-Dyer OBE, started seeing zig zags in front of his eyes, he could not have guessed that a scan would reveal a very aggressive brain tumour near his optical nerve. Determined to survive and be a “Bermondsey boy for years to come”, he underwent gruelling treatments, documented his battle in his blog, and sadly died less than two years later.           

“Barry, being Barry, was determined to keep going in to work every day he could. “I’ve got to keep on going,” he would declare, “or I’m a dead man.” Barry had a strong will and a strong Catholic faith, and two those things helped him get through it. He never wanted the cancer to take him over and stop him doing the things he loved. I’ve always thought that was what kept him alive for as long as he was.”

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Becky Speirs


Becky had been suffering with increasingly bad headaches and then vomiting for about 3 months and it was starting to get worse.  The doctors missed the signs and failed to diagnose a brain tumour, but I don’t blame them.  The outcome would have been the same. 

Eventually in May 2009 she collapsed and was taken to hospital where a scan indicated a brain tumour.  We were given the official diagnosis on Becky’s 39th birthday – 28th May.  She had a glioblastoma multiforme with a prognosis of 12 to 14 months.  The neuro-surgeon was unable to get the entire tumour out and said that it was the most aggressive one he had ever seen
 
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Becky Vines

Becky was just 23 when she was diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour and told she had a year to live. She outlived the prognosis, surviving for nine years, and despite being told her extensive treatment would leave her infertile, gave birth to a “miracle” daughter who was seven when she lost her mum in June 2017.

“Although there was no change in Becky’s tumour for six years its presence was always there, casting a shadow, and it was as if we lived on a knife-edge as we waited anxiously from one scan appointment to the next. Becky was really positive where I was more realistic and ensured her daughter Phoebe was prepared from the beginning for what was likely to happen. Phoebe had always known she was going to lose her mum and we are now her Moma and Popa. She is a delightful child, so much like Becky and it is hard not to cry as she catches me unawares by saying things like how much she misses her mum’s warm hands and I know exactly what she means.”

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Ben Parton

Ben was just 11 when he started to experience symptoms including sickness. A month later he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme and his devastated mum was told he had less than two years to live. He underwent surgery and treatment, but sadly died just eight months later in December 2019. His twin brother Jack was diagnosed with leukaemia shortly afterwards and is now undergoing treatment.

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Ben Whitehouse

Ben Whitehouse was travelling on a train with his girlfriend Rachel when he suffered a severe seizure. He was taken straight to hospital where he was diagnosed with a high- grade glioblastoma brain tumour. The couple were married in Hampshire in April 2012 and just days after they returned from honeymoon in Cambodia, Ben became ill once more. He passed away three years after his diagnosis. He was 34.  

“We had been married for just 15 months when Ben died. I never imagined that after such a short time I would be on my own. In those last few weeks when he was so ill we talked a lot. He deteriorated so fast but I kept talking to him although I don’t know how much he understood or even heard. Life is still hard but at least we had the chance to say goodbye.”

 
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Bernice McCabe

We are grateful to Bernice who worked with us in September 2018 to share her story here. Sadly, she passed away 18th February 2019. We remember Bernice as we continue our work to raise awareness of this devastating disease and to fund research to help find a cure. She will be forever in our hearts.

Former headteacher, Bernice McCabe OBE, has instilled one essential piece of advice in her pupils: you have to rewrite the story when life takes an unexpected turn. Little did she know, Bernice would need to apply this lesson in her own life when, at the age of 65, she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). One craniotomy, one surprise proposal, and several courses of treatment later, and Bernice is as resilient and optimistic as can be.

 “A CAT scan confirmed I wasn’t suffering from a stroke but something else was happening. I was transferred urgently to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with Rod driving separately behind the ambulance, worrying that I wouldn’t be alive when he met me there.”

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Beverly Lawrence

Life and soul of the party and adored grandma, Beverly Lawrence, died shortly after her 60th birthday in 2013. It was only two years after she retired and was, almost immediately, diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Hayley Costa lost her mum Beverly just five days after she gave birth, horribly reminiscent of Beverly losing her own mother while pregnant with Hayley. 

 “She was away with the fairies a lot of the time. We were living some kind of black comedy. I remember her handing me imaginary tissues and I would have to take them. The next moment, she would snap back to herself, sobbing: “Look what’s happened to me!””
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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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Bob Picken

Bob shared his story with us in September 2016. Sadly, he passed away on 25th June 2019. We will remember Bob 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 successful double bass player, Bob Picken has been a member of Liverpool band Ella Guru, as well as a backing for artists such as Neville Skelly, She Drew The Gun, Bill Ryder-Jones and Marvin Powell.

Diagnosed in 2012 with an anaplastic astrocytoma, whom he affectionately calls “Bieber” in reference to the Canadian singer Justin, Bob has managed to overcome a number of setbacks to carry on with his career, and in his own words “stick two fingers up to cancer”.

“You go through five stages of cancer: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and eventually acceptance.”

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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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