“I lost my father some years ago to a brain tumor… good on you for doing this”.
“I’m sorry for the loss of your uncle. You’re doing good work being positive and helping others like this”.
In January 2018, my beloved Uncle Ian Nixon was diagnosed with a brain tumor. One morning, he woke up and could not move his arms like he used to. He could not raise his arms, and his coordination suddenly went. After an MRI scan, a brain tumor was found… The doctors gave him until early December 2018…
Over the rest of the year, my family spent much time with my uncle, taking him out, arranging a surprise family holiday for him, and helping him with everyday activities. By November, my uncle was receiving 24/7 care at a hospice, following a seizure and collapsed lung. The medication caused him to swell out, he was fatigued, he was on a drip, could not move his body, speak, or function.
After a year of fighting this horrid disease, he passed peacefully, on January 3rd 2019, with his whole family around him at the hospice. Recently, I was inspired to do a fundraiser and raise some money to help others going through a similar experience. On 7th and 28th September, I did some fundraising to help raise £1000 for Brain Tumor Research. I met many people who shared their testimonies, expressed their sympathies, and kindly donated to the charity. (1)
“I had a brain tumor when I was 2 years old. I am very lucky to be here”
“I am sorry for your loss… In other news, this little guy just got the all clear from his brain tumor!” (the man who spoke with me showed me a beautiful photo of a little boy with joy radiating from his face. He proceeded to open his wallet, and gave me all of his money to support the charity)
“My mate over there, lost his son to a brain tumor… here, have all this. It will help”.
On the table, I had a photo of my and my uncle. People who were in a rush dropped loose change into the collection tins before heading out, quickly giving me their sympathies. Many people took fliers, and made conversation with me.
“It’s a horrible disease. You’re doing very well helping others. Thank you”
“I’m sorry for your loss. You’re a nice person for doing this, after what you’ve been through”.
After doing research, I was pointed towards Dr Christopher Duma; a Neurosurgeon specialist, who explains that glioblastoma tumor (of which Ian had) “is more ‘intelligent than other tumors. It does not snowball and grow on the brain like other tumors, it grows with the ‘white matter’ of the brain, and goes through the brain. This makes it impossible to cut out” (1). He further explains that the best type of treatment for this type of tumor is a gamma knife; a type of focused radiation therapy that destroys the white matter, and prevents the tumor from growing (2) (3). However, Gamma knife treatment is only done at a few hospitals in the country, including Cromwell Hospital (4)
Brain tumors kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other type of cancer… (5). Every 2 hours, someone is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year, of which less than 20% of people diagnosed survive. In 2016, Brain Tumor Research released a report that highlighted that only 0.52% of government funding for cancers went to brain tumors, despite their prevalence and high death rate (6)
In August 2019, a partnership between Lions Club International and Brain Tumour Research, to help raise £1,000,000 for those affected by brain tumor (7). As a member of my local Lions Club, it makes me so proud to see the formation of this partnership!
In light of this research, the question still remains; brain tumors; one of the most indiscriminate killers that claim more lives under the age of 40 out of all the cancers, why is the treatment limited on the NHS?
(1) JustGiving: justgiving.com/fundraising/stephanie-nixon5
(2) Dr Christopher Dune TED Talk: ‘Fighting Glioblastoma’ Available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hErXkeIadsY (2016) Accessed on 12/09/2019
(4) Bupa ‘Gamma Knife Treatment’ Available online at: https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/cancer/gamma-knife-treatment (2019) Accessed on 12/09/2019
(6) Brain Tumor Research ‘Together we will find a cure’ Available online at: https://www.braintumourresearch.org (2019) Accessed on 12/09/2019
(7) Brain Tumor Research ‘Stark Facts’ Available online at: https://www.braintumourresearch.org/campaigning/stark-facts (2019) Accessed on 12/09/2019
(8) Brain Tumor Research ‘Pride as Lions Sign up Charity Deal in Support of Brain Tumor Research’ (2019) Accessed on 07/09/2019