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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

Isabella Ortiz

Victor Ortiz and Assunta Trapanese lost their only child to a deadly brain tumour in 2019. Isabella Ortiz was just three when she was diagnosed with DIPG at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in June 2017 and died at the age of five. Her parents desperately sought private treatment and will remain forever grateful for the support of their community, who remain by their side through the darkest days, as Isabella succumbed to the disease and they said the cruellest of goodbyes.

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Helen Legh

Helen worked with us in December 2015 to share her story here. Sadly, she passed away on 18th June 2019. We will remember Helen 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.

New mum, Helen Legh, a BBC radio presenter, feared her baby daughter Matilda wouldn’t survive.  Now five, Matilda is thriving, but Helen faces the grim reality that she won’t see her daughter grow up and is making the most of whatever time they have left together. She is also creating a treasure chest of precious mementoes for Matilda to cherish when she is gone.

“Even my worst fears hadn’t prepared me for this. I immediately thought of my Matilda, then just four years old, who had only recently started at school. How long was she going to have a Mummy? I was so sad to think how I was never going to see her grow up, or get married, how I was never going to be a Granny. And more to the point, how were she and her Daddy going to cope when I died?” 

 
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Helen Legh

Paul and Helen never anticipated that their wonderful family life with their much-wanted daughter Matilda would come crashing down with Helen’s diagnosis with an aggressive brain tumour. In the four and a half years she survived with a glioblastoma multiforme, Helen underwent surgery four times as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

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All stories

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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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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Carl Piddington

Carl and his family have been staunch supporters of Brain Tumour Research for many years. Sadly, Carl passed away on 26 March 2019 and we remain enormously grateful for all he helped us to achieve and will continue our fight in his memory.

Manchester pub landlord, Carl Piddington, was fit and healthy with three children, when he discovered one day that he could no longer control his hand. After a massive seizure and subsequent tests, Carl was told that his aggressive brain tumour could end his life within a year. Determined to be a long-term survivor, Carl is now eight years on after diagnosis and facing yet more treatments.

 “I know this is terminal. Maybe it will get me, maybe it will be something else, but I’m not going to sit and wait for it. As my dad always used to say, while laying his hands on my shoulders and looking into my eyes: “you are a lion, my son!”

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Carol Cooper

Psychiatric nurse Carol, from Fareham, died just six weeks after her diagnosis with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – a highly aggressive type of tumour – in August 2000. She was 53 and left her two sons Mark and Simon. Now Mark, who studies at Bournemouth University, is determined to help fund the fight into the disease, by taking part in the Brain Tumour Research charity’s Wear A Hat Day with his fellow students.

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