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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

Martin Evans

Originally from Lordswood in Southampton, 69-year-old Martin Evans moved to Romsey in 2017 to be closer to his brother, Gary. Before the move, Martin had been living on his own in the home he shared with his mother, until she died in 2014. In 2019, the talented musician, who lived with autism, discovered he had a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) after his “unusual behaviour” saw him admitted to hospital and a scan showed a lesion on his brain. Despite an operation to remove the tumour and radiotherapy treatment, the cancer was too aggressive and nine months after he was diagnosed, Martin died on 23 June 2020. Now, his brother and bandmates are working with Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness and fundraise to help find a cure for the deadly disease.

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Surinder Shergill

Mum-of-three and grandmother-of-seven Surinder Shergill, of Erith in South East London, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in July 2018. Her symptoms were attributed to grief following the death of her much-loved brother months earlier but included vacant spells and weakness in her legs. By the time her tumour was discovered, she was given a prognosis of just eight weeks. She died at home, surrounded by family, in September 2018, one night after celebrating her 71st birthday.

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Callum Elliott

Oxfordshire toddler, Callum Elliott was just 20 months when he was diagnosed with an anaplastic ependymoma after a family member noticed a constant tilt of his head. After initially being given medication for wry neck, concerned mum, Zoe Elliott, re-visited the doctors and was referred to the John Radcliffe Hospital where further tests revealed the devastating news of a tumour on Callum’s brain. He had three operations, encountering complications during his diagnosis including a tracheostomy, and recovering from meningitis, staphylococcus aureus and sepsis. After undergoing only five out of 35 rounds of gruelling chemotherapy, and radiotherapy treatment, Callum’s tumour became too aggressive and he died on 9 January 2017, aged four, in a hospice with Zoe by his side

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All stories

Aurora Provenzano

Aurora was just six years old with her whole life ahead of her when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  She fought a brave battle for three and a half years, but sadly lost the fight, leaving her parents and two sisters, Isabella and Chiara with a huge hole in their family.  

Aurora only ever had one fit and that was it - she was otherwise completely healthy.  Yet in 2006 we found ourselves at our local hospital where an MRI scan revealed Aurora had a brain tumour.  When  Aurora was diagnosed it felt like I was having an out of body experience.  I was pregnant with my third daughter and it seemed like I was looking down at myself, not knowing what to think.
 
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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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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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