A RUGBY family said they were ‘overwhelmed’ after their petition calling for the government to fund more research into brain cancer was finally debated in Parliament.
Launched by the Realf family, the e-petition gathered more than 120,000 signatures and prompted the first ever inquiry by the House of Commons Petitions Committee.
Made in memory of their son Stephen, who died of a brain tumour aged only 26, the Realfs’ petition was finally debated by a host of MPs in a packed Westminster Hall – which MP Mark Pawsey described as being “as full today as most of us have ever seen it”.
The three-hour-long debate raised the motion of increasing funding into brain cancer research – which is currently one of the least supported research areas, receiving only one and a half per cent of the near £500million annual national spend on cancer research.
The petition argued incidences of brain cancer – unlike most cancers – are rising, with less than a fifth of those diagnosed with brain cancer surviving beyond five years.
Stephen’s father, Peter Realf, said: “We were really overwhelmed with the response from MPs attending the debate. So many representatives from all over the country wanted to become involved in the debate, and with so many wanted to voice their own opinion on the issue.
“Many of those who had a chance to speak also thanked Brain Cancer Research and the work we had done for bringing it this far and it was especially touching to have our local MP Mark Pawsey represent us in the debate.
“We were very heartened to hear that so many supported the cause and now it seems it really is the start of work towards increasing funding.”
Attending the debate, Rugby MP Mark Pawsey commended the Realfs’ work in championing the petition all the way to the House of Commons.
He said: “It was a great privilege to be able to raise awareness of brain cancer research and to pay tribute to the determined work of this inspiring Rugby family.
“I am proud my constituents have played such a key role in raising awareness and pleased that they have turned what was for them such a sad time into something positive, to ensure that their son leaves a legacy of a greater likelihood of earlier diagnosis for those affected and, perhaps, of a longer and better quality of life.”
Following the debate, the Realfs are now waiting for an official government response to figures published by the petitions committee and to hear about the work of a newly formed ‘taskforce’ – MPs charged with the overseeing of the call for more funding.