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Call for more funding for 'neglected' brain tumour research

Published 11/10/2016

Family handout photo of Natalie Overs (left) who has spoken out after brain cancer claimed the life of her partner, Darel Bryan (right)
Family handout photo of Natalie Overs (left) who has spoken out after brain cancer claimed the life of her partner, Darel Bryan (right)

A bereaved girlfriend has spoken about about the "shocking" level of funding for brain tumour research after the cancer claimed the life of her partner.

After aggressively fighting off the disease for 15 months, Darel Bryan lost his battle against glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in February.

His partner of 12 years Natalie Overs said she was dismayed to discover the proportion of the national cancer budget that is spent on brain tumours compared with other cancers.

The comments come as a new report from the charity Brain Tumour Research showed that the situation is "worsening" for patients and their families.

Earlier this year, a report by the House of Commons Petitions Committee concluded that "successive Governments have failed brain tumour patients and their families for decades" and called for action to tackle the under-funding of brain tumour research.

The new report from the charity states that in 2015, b rain tumour research represented just 1.37% of national spend on cancer.

Meanwhile, government spend on brain tumour research represents just 0.52% of its total spend on cancer, the report adds.

The report concludes: " At the current rate of spend, it could take 100 years for brain cancer to catch up with developments in other diseases and find a cure."

Ms Overs, 33, said that "more must be done" to address the "unimaginable horror" of brain tumours.

Her partner Mr Bryan, from Bow in east London, was 33 when he was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2014.

Ms Overs said: " The clinical nurse specialists told us not to look his diagnosis up. I was to discover that GBM is a monster - it is relentless and an utterly cruel disease. It not only robs you of who you are, it robbed Darel and me of our future together.

"After six weeks of radiotherapy, 12 months of five different chemotherapies, two surgeries, over five months of hospital stays, nearly four months of being bedbound, every alternative and natural treatment for GBM, diet changes, a nutritionist who specialises in brain tumours in the US, a large cocktail of repurposed drugs... the battle was over and no more could be done to save the love of my life.

"The vital thing is research. Not only do we need to improve the outcome of this horrendous disease, but also understand more about brain tumours and how they occur in the first place.

"It is also a shocking fact that so little of our national cancer budget is spent on brain tumours compared with other cancers, especially given the fact that more people under the age of 40 die from brain tumours than any other cancer.

"Brain tumours are incredibly complex and are such an earth-shattering diagnosis that robs people of their freedom, personality, mobility and future. They leave a crater of destruction for families too and, until you witness it first-hand, it is truly an unimaginable horror. More must be done."

Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: " For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer with successive governments failing patients and their families for decades.

"Stories like Darel's remind us all that we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.

"Along with our member charities, we are campaigning for fairness in cancer research funding, so that brain tumour patients can see the same improvements in treatments and outcomes that breast cancer and leukaemia patients have. Together we will find a cure."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, including brain tumours, is a priority for this Government.

"Our new expert group will bring together health professionals, charities and policy leads to look at how to increase the level and impact of research into brain tumours.

"The Government invests more than £1 billion every year into health research and works closely with patients, charities and our world-leading life sciences industry to support further research into this devastating disease."

Press Association

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