Bereaved dad 'optimistic' about brain cancer campaign - The Rugby Observer

Bereaved dad 'optimistic' about brain cancer campaign

Rugby Editorial 15th Mar, 2019   0

A BEREAVED dad campaigning for increased funding for brain tumour research – launched in memory of his son who died of the condition aged 26 – says he is “optimistic about the future” after a Westminster meeting.

Stephen Realf was just 19 when he was diagnosed with an astrocytoma while training to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

He died in August 2014 and his parents Peter and Liz, from Rugby, have campaigned tirelessly to draw attention to the historic underfunding of research into brain tumours, which kill more people under 40 than any other cancer.

Peter attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT) to hear an update from Nicky Huskens, director of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission (TJBCM), on the progress being made to help find a cure for the disease.

Peter said: “Finally, this area is beginning to get the attention it deserves.

“Attending the APPGBT ensures that issues close to our hearts are not forgotten about at Westminster and research into brain tumours remains high on the political agenda.

“Three years ago, my daughter launched an e-petition supported by Brain Tumour Research which led to a report by the Petitions Committee on funding, a Westminster Hall debate and a Department of Health and Social Care Task and Finish Working Group – and now we have the TJBCM which is taking forward the recommendations of our campaigning work.”

“We owe it to Stephen and all the other patients and their families to continue to do what we can in order to press for change.

“We must do all we can to ensure no parent hears the dreaded words that their child has an incurable brain tumour and that there are no more treatment options available.”

His daughter Maria Lester launched the petition in 2015, attracting over 120,000 signatures and becoming the first ever to prompt a parliamentary debate and report.

The report was published last year, concluding “patients with brain tumours are failed at every stage”. It prompted the Department of Health and Social Care to announce a £20million funding boost for research into brain tumours, and Cancer Research to invest a further £25million in two new centres at Cambridge and London.

Sue Farrington Smith MBE, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research and a member of the TJBCM steering group, said: “We will always remember patients like Stephen whose lives were tragically cut short and we are indebted to his family and the many others who continue to share their stories and campaign with us for change.

“Together we will find a cure.”

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