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.
You are forever in our hearts.
Recently published stories
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.Read more
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?”
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.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
We are grateful to Fiona who worked with us in January 2016 to share her story here. Sadly, she passed away on 11th December 2017. We remember Fiona 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.
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.”