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The heart-breaking reality of kick-starting cancer cures

1st March 2020

The month of March not only means longer days and lighter nights, but it’s also Brain Tumour Awareness Month – a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of brain tumours.

We’re marking the occasion in two ways: by introducing you to two incredible supporters and unveiling a brand new research project we’re backing which looks into the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

Meet Dr Domenico Maiorano

Dr Domenico Maiorano, based in Montpellier, France and his team have been awarded £191,704 to better understand how a gene in our DNA allows brain cancer cells (specifically glioblastoma) to survive and grow.

Brain tumours kill over 5,000 people each year in the UK and over 400 in Scotland alone. Dr Maiorano hopes that the research will help discover a new way to stop the growth of brain tumours.

Dr Domenico Maiorano, said: “Our research focuses on glioblastoma, a very aggressive brain cancer where life expectancy is very short. Brain tumours have an astonishing ability to overcome treatment, but we've identified a gene which appears to be responsible for its survival and we're now trying to understand how to exploit this therapeutically.

“The research that Worldwide Cancer Research funds is so important. This type of research is at the heart of new treatments for cancer and we simply cannot cure it if we first do not understand its biology.”

But the news is bittersweet...

We spoke to a supporter from Aberdeen, Scotland. Corrie - who lives with her two boys Noah (19), Eli (16) – had her life rocked by glioblastoma back in 2006 when her husband Chris was diagnosed suddenly with the aggressive form of cancer.

Corrie said: “We were in a lovely stage of our lives – the kids were wee, just two and five years old and we had just returned from our family holiday. Chris had been complaining of terrible headaches. Then headaches turned to nausea and nausea turned to sickness. We went to hospital and within a few hours, our lives were turned upside down.

“Chris died 19 months later. I still grieve for the life we should have had – or could have had, if research had been more advanced back then. The boys never got to know their father.

“When I heard about Worldwide Cancer Research’s new project I was overwhelmed. It’s so fantastic that a charity so close to home is starting potential cures across the world. The future for brain tumours and brain cancer is bright, and for that I’ll be so thankful as it might mean that one day no other family will have to go through what ours did.”

Are you doing anything to fundraise this Brain Tumour Awareness Month or looking to find out how you could? Our super Supporter Services team would love to hear from you!

Defying all odds

Also from Aberdeen, Suzanne is a mother of two with her husband Owen and runs her own business from her spare room. She is also currently living with stage four glioblastoma.

Just 5% of people will survive five years or more after a glioblastoma diagnosis – the most aggressive type of brain cancer. In 2014, Suzanne’s consultant told her she’d only have a year to live. But amazingly, six years on, she said: “it was a really hard time – out of nowhere, I suddenly found myself having vacant moments, where I couldn’t hear, speak or even breathe. When the doctors told me I had a tumour the size of a golf ball in my brain and that I’d only have a year to live, I had my two children (aged four and seven at the time) and husband to think about.

“Now six years on, I’m so thankful for research and for the treatments, surgery advances and drugs that were and are available to me. I didn’t think I’d get to see my 40th birthday, let alone see my sister get married and have children of her own.

“When I heard that the Scottish charity, Worldwide Cancer Research, was itself dedicating almost £200,000 into my cancer type, I was completely overjoyed. Any research that can help us get closer to finding cures, clinical trials and everything in-between is incredible. And the fact it’s a charity close to home starting the research across the world makes it even more incredible.

“I want to be a Grandma and to be able to live my life like I should be able to. And thanks to charities like Worldwide Cancer Research, I might be able to.”

It’s because of our supporters that we’re able to start cancer cures across the world. Thank you for your continuous support.

Have you or has someone you love been affected by brain tumours or cancer? Your story could be the gift that one day helps us conquer cancer by raising awareness and starting a conversation. If you’d like to tell your story please get in touch by emailing stories@worldwidecancerresearch.org or calling +44 (0)300 777 7910. We’d love to hear from you!