Local families call for brain tumour funding

Charlene Griffiths

Charlene Griffiths

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Two local families have supported calls for more funding into brain tumour research.

Earlier this week, a brain tumour researcher at Queen’s University said that more funding for research into the cancer was essential.

More than 200 brain tumour cases are operated on each year in Northern Ireland, however research into brain tumours receives less than 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research.

Dr Tom Flannery, the lead brain tumour researcher at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queens, revealed that brain tumours cause more deaths of children and people under 40 than any other cancer.

He said this statistic “shows how much we need to address this issue.”

“A greater awareness of, and a commitment for more funding into research on brain tumours, is essential in order to lower the number of people dying from the disease.”

One Derry father whose daughter passed away after battling a brain tumour agrees that more money should be spent researching the disease.

Eugene Griffiths’ daughter Charlene died in January, less than a year after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

He told the ‘Journal’ “time is of the essence” to make similar improvements into brain tumours that have been made in other cancers.

“There is a history of brain tumours in my family. Charlene passed away at the age of 27, her cousin Michaela died at 18 and my wife’s brother at the age of 39. They all had brain tumours.”

Charlene, a schoolteacher and sportswoman gave her permission for a biopsy sample to be used for research purposes and Eugene believes extra funding into brain tumour research “could prevent other people going through what we are going through.”

“Although Charlene didn’t have a great quality of life after half the tumour was removed, we had her for an extra six months. It gave us the chance to say we loved each other and it was a privilege and a pleasure to nurse her.”

“Burying your own child is the most unnatural thing to do. It has been an awful, awful life changing experience and our lives will never be the same again.

Eugene said his family will “learn to cope” with their loss and believes that supporting calls for more funding into brain tumour research helps.

‘Journal’ reporter Theresa Casey’s four-year-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumour in June last year. She has also called for more money to be allocated to brain tumour research.

“At the moment we don’t even know what sort of tumour Thomas has, because biopsy results have been inconclusive. He is not receiving treatment at the moment, but has MRI scans every three months to see if the tumour is progressing.

It does affect his daily life and in many ways limits what he can do.”

“My family has been in limbo for the last eight months as we don’t know what the future will hold for Thomas. I know my family is not the only one in this position and if more money was spent on researching tumours there could be better diagnosis and treatment of the condition.”