A FATHER who lost his only son to a brain tumour has welcomed what he hopes will be a “new era” for patients and their families.
Peter Realf, whose son Stephen was just 26 when he died nearly three years ago, attended the post-election relaunch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Brain Tumours.
Along with the charity Brain Tumour Research, Stephen’s family have been campaigning to address the historic underfunding of research into brain tumours which kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
Peter said: “I am optimistic that, at long last, the voices of families such as mine are being heard louder than ever before and I feel that we are at the dawn of a new era which will see increased levels of awareness about brain tumours and increased funding for research which is vital if we are to improve outcomes for patients.”
The APPG will hold the Government to account as the findings of a year-long Task and Finish Working Group, convened to tackle the historic underfunding of research into brain tumours, are expected in the early autumn.
The working group was established following a damning House of Commons Petitions Committee’s report last year – prompted by an overwhelming response to the Realfs’ petition – which said “successive governments have failed brain tumour patients and their families for decades”.
Peter continued: “The APPG has a key role as it will scrutinise the published recommendations of the Task and Finish Group and call for action and leadership from the Government.
“A brain tumour diagnosis is as devastating today as it was 20 years ago. This is unacceptable for all those affected and I hope we can honour Stephen’s memory by bringing about change.”
Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “The APPG was established to tackle decades of underfunding for research. Even now, less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers.
“Following campaigning on this issue, we are getting ever closer to increased investment in research. We were very encouraged to see Cancer Research UK announce a new multi-million-pound investment in brain tumour research, to add to the exceptional contribution of the Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence.
“This could be a game-changing year ahead, offering new hope to brain tumour patients and their families.”