‘I know first-hand just how difficult it is to see your most loved one succumb to a disease for which there is no cure.’
It all happened very suddenly. My partner David was a fit, vigorous 69-year old. He loved gardening and going for walks in the countryside. We couldn’t begin to understand what was wrong when he first began to struggling for words, have panic attacks, and fall asleep without warning.
The blood tests we had done at the GPs came back as clear, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong.
One day, David couldn’t remember that we’d eaten lunch just 30minutes after doing so. I thought perhaps he’d had a stroke, and we rushed off to A&E. After about five hours of waiting and tests, we were told that a ‘lesion on the brain’ had been discovered.
David was taken that same night to the regional centre for neurology. Within 36 hours, he’d had surgery to debulk the tumour. The histology report revealed that the lesion was a Grade 4 brain cancer, otherwise known as glioblastoma. It was devastating news. Only one in four people with this kind of brain tumour survive for over a year.
David's surgery left his short-term memory seriously affected, and he declined very quickly after his operation. Too ill to receive the standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy, he died in our local hospice just 36 days after his initial diagnosis.
Without doubt, losing him so quickly has been traumatic. Until David’s diagnosis, I had never heard of glioblastoma, or knew that it is – in the majority of cases – a certain death sentence. Although we encountered great compassion from everyone in the NHS and especially in the hospice, we were ultimately helpless in the face of this disease.
I first came across ACT for Cancer when I heard Jess, the CEO and co-founder, speak on the radio after her mother Tessa had passed away. Tessa had died of a glioblastoma, just the same as David. Immediately, I felt compelled to get involved, in any way I could.
I know first-hand just how difficult it is to see your most loved one succumb to a disease for which there is no cure, and around which many medical professionals struggle to both diagnose and treat. David’s story simply underscores the urgent need for research, funding and access to innovative treatments – all of which ACT for Cancer is working tirelessly to achieve.
Though I am no expert on cancer, I know that there are a lot of incredibly important ways that we ‘lay’ people can help ACT for Cancer improve care and treatment for cancer patients. Seeing someone that you love dying of cancer is isolating and terrifying. It means a great deal to me that David’s story can be seen and shared, and help others know they’re not alone in their struggle. ACT for cancer is striving to make living with untreatable cancer better, until the day we can find a cure. I’m sure you agree with me that this is a noble and worthy cause, that must be supported.