Together we will find a cure Donate
Together we will find a cure Donate

In Our Hearts Stories

Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years

Chris McGregor

Towards the end of 2013, Chris McGregor, from Liverpool, had hot flushes and problems with his memory. A CT scan revealed an astrocytoma. Chris, dad to Wade, 19, had an awake craniotomy in March 2014, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Before treatment, Chris banked and froze his sperm in case he and his wife, Lauren, wanted to extend their family. The tumour remained stable until November 2019 when Chris felt pressure in his head again. Another scan showed the tumour was growing and that a secondary tumour had emerged on the other side of his brain. On Sunday 19 July 2020, Chris died in hospital, aged 37, with Lauren by his side. In May 2021, Lauren gave birth to baby Seb through IVF using Chris’ sperm.

Lauren tells Chris’ story…

Chris and I were in our 20s when we started seeing each other. Suddenly, in October 2013, he started having random hot flushes. He also had a head cold that he couldn’t shake off and he had a bit of confusion, it really dragged him down. His GP said he had early signs of flu.

Then, in December he phoned me from work. The reception was bad, and we got cut off. We had always agreed he would be the one to call back if that ever happened, but he didn’t call.

“He called a bit later to tell me he was being sent home. He hadn’t called me back earlier, because he couldn’t think what my name was.”

Chris looked pale when he got home. He saw the GP the same day but was just told to continue taking his cold and flu medication. I wanted Chris to get properly checked out, so I drove him to A&E at Whiston Hospital in Prescot.

At the same time, the GP had gone to Chris’ house, where he was living with his stepdad. He told his stepdad he’d been thinking more about Chris and that something didn’t seem right, and he felt Chris should go to the hospital.

“Chris looked after himself and was very fit. The nurses at A&E weren’t too worried about him and also said he should continue with his flu medication, but I was begging them to scan his head. I just had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right.”

They finally agreed to do a CT scan at around midnight. While waiting for the results, Chris was getting a headache from the lights in the room.

“Later, we were told the scan had found a mass on the left side of Chris’ brain. They said he either had a bleed on the brain, an aneurysm, or a brain tumour. Neither of us cried; we were both in shock, and everything was happening so quickly.”

They took Chris to a bed on a ward. It was quiet because it was so late, and everyone was sleeping. I was told to go home because it was outside of visiting hours, but Chris and I hadn’t had a chance to discuss what we’d just been told.

I went to see Chris early the next day so we could chat about everything. He’d been put on steroids to reduce swelling around his brain. They also put him on anti-seizure medication because they thought he may have epilepsy.

I spent the whole day at his side. A nurse said I could stay the night with him, so I slept next to him in his hospital bed.

“When I asked the nurse why she allowed me to do that, she said it was because they didn’t know the severity of Chris’ condition and wanted us to have that time together.”

Three days passed and the scan results still hadn’t been clarified. I was begging a nurse to tell me what Chris had. She looked his notes up on her computer and told me he had an astrocytoma, but any other questions would have to wait for a specialist.

“I started Googling astrocytoma which showed the average lifespan for someone with one was ten years, but I didn’t tell Chris.”

I was in shock; I went into denial thinking surgery would remove the brain tumour, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but with a brain tumour, regardless of the treatment, people very rarely survive.

Chris was scheduled for an awake craniotomy in March 2014 at the Walton Centre in Liverpool so, from January, he was treated as an outpatient. Because his tumour was on the front temporal lobe, they were testing his reading, writing, and speaking skills.

“The awake craniotomy went really well. The surgeon was thrilled and said he managed to remove 95% of the tumour. He said Chris was even cracking jokes throughout the procedure!”

Humour played a big part of getting through everything, especially because his recovery took quite a while. The big scar on his head blew up like a balloon with fluid so Chris had to have a lumbar puncture to drain it away.

After that, we started to lead a normal-ish life again and you would never know anything had happened. Towards the end of 2016, Chris said he was struggling to recall some words and he had to really think before he spoke. The tumour had grown but it wasn't big enough for surgery, so he was offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This treatment was likely to affect Chris’ fertility, so the surgeon recommended we bank Chris’ sperm. Chris has a son, Wade, from a previous relationship, but as we were planning to extend our family, we went ahead and did that.

In January 2017, Chris started six weeks of radiotherapy and six months of chemotherapy. He really struggled with the chemotherapy for the first month; It made him feel really sick and he developed mouth ulcers. He also had a heightened sense of smell and said everything smelt disgusting. The doctors altered the dosage, and he was much better after that.

The treatment finished at the end of August. An MRI scan showed the tumour was stable. Chris said he still had to think about his words when speaking but not as much as previously.

In October, Chris needed to get his sperm tested to see what effect the radiotherapy and chemotherapy had on it. Amazingly, he had four times more than before he started treatment, so his friends started to call him Super Sperm! We didn’t think we would need IVF, but we still kept some of his sperm frozen at the clinic.

We went back to living a normal life until November 2019 when Chris said he felt pressure in his head again. He said it felt like his skull was going to split open.

We went to A&E at Whiston Hospital where an MRI scan found the tumour was growing. It also revealed a secondary tumour on the other side of his brain.

“We had gone back to normal life and doing normal things and we’d learnt not to let Chris’ prognosis take over our lives. We thought we had got the tumour under control, so this hit him quite hard. We hadn’t changed anything, so why had the tumour changed?”

Chris was put back on steroids to reduce swelling on his brain, but we decided to try alternative therapies too. After doing some research, Chris went on the alkaline diet, and he also started taking THC cannabis oil. At £900 a month, it was very expensive, but it was worth it. A check-up scan in March 2020 showed the second tumour had vanished, so we stopped the therapies.

Six weeks after the good news, I noticed Chris was acting a bit strange and he kept forgetting where he’d put things in the house. I was concerned so I called the specialist nurse at the hospital to ask if they would scan his head. It was during the height of COVID-19, so when they asked us to come to the hospital for the results, I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.

“The original tumour had completely spread across the middle of Chris’ brain. They showed me the scan; it was just devastating to see what it had done to his brain.”

They told me Chris may just have weeks left to live. He didn’t want to know the prognosis, but when I went back to see him, he could tell it wasn’t good news just from looking at me.

We both had a cry; I told him to go back on the cannabis oil and the alkaline diet. We would keep it as our secret and wouldn’t tell the doctor.

“Chris genuinely believed I could save him, but I couldn’t with what he was up against.”

Chris lost the mobility in his right arm, but he was fighting the tumour up until his last day. I feel the THC cannabis oil gave him a much more peaceful and dignified ending than many people in his situation have and I’m thankful for that.

Later in July, Chris had a temperature, and he was a bit delirious, so I took him to A&E at Royal Liverpool University Hospital. He perked up the next day and was in high spirits, but then slept through the follow day. A nurse told me he had been violently ill overnight which is why he was so exhausted.

“I tried waking Chris up, but he just wasn’t responding, he was slowly slipping into a coma.”

On Sunday 19 July 2020, I was on my way to the hospital when a nurse called me. She said I needed to get there as soon as possible because Chris was slipping away. I actually got pulled over by the police for speeding but when I told them my husband was dying, they put on their blue lights and escorted me to the hospital. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have got there in time.

I got into bed with him. It was very surreal; my entire world was there. As much as I didn’t want to accept it, he was dying. He just went and there was no preparation for it. I was in a state of disbelief, he didn’t look sick enough to die; the staff were also in a state of shock. I think the cannabis oil masked so much and kept him in a stable condition.

“The surgeon said he thought Chris had been living with the tumour for three to five years. How could he look so fit and healthy and have this?”

I wanted a piece of Chris back, so I called the clinic in August 2020 to check if his sperm was still frozen. It was, but they told me I needed to go through a nine-month grieving period before starting IVF.

I began in August 2021 and then discovered I was pregnant on 12 September 2021. It was a lovely feeling, but it also filled me with fear because I was worried something may happen to the baby. I just couldn’t bear the thought of another loss, so I kept the news very private. At every appointment, I wore Chris’ ashes around my neck. His name was printed on all of the forms, so he was a part of it with me.

I was told the baby was going to be big, so I agreed to have a caesarean section on 17 May 2022. The birth went well; Seb is just a little delight. He is the double of his dad which is lovely. I want Seb to know who his dad is, so I show him photos and visit our favourite places to keep his memory alive.

I set up an Instagram page to document my IVF journey. I also use the page to answer questions and support other widows who are going through a similar journey

I’m now campaigning alongside Brain Tumour Research to help reach 100,000 signatures on its petition to increase research funding, in the hope of prompting a parliamentary debate. It calls on the Government to ring-fence £110 million of current and new funding to kick-start an increase in the national investment in brain tumour research to £35 million a year by 2028.

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, but the Government gives so little to research the disease. We’ve got a massive killer, but the Government doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t seem fair.

It feels like there’s no hope if you have a brain tumour. Nothing’s changed in years and the treatments on offer on the NHS don’t work, yet people wonder why people like us turn to cannabis oil and look at treatments abroad.

Lauren McGregor
July 2023

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer... yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

If you have been touched by Chris’s story, you may like to make a donation via or leave a gift in your will via

Together we will find a cure.