Headfirst: Brain Tumour Appeal

Brain and spinal cord tumours are rare conditions that can be devastating for those affected and their families and are different from other types of cancer since they affect the part of the body that makes us who we are. 

Brain tumours affect adults and children and whilst survival has improved for many other cancers, the survival rates for brain tumours in adults has improved little in over 40 years.Over half of patients diagnosed with brain tumours will not survive one year and just under one fifth of patients survive for 5 years or more. Velindre Cancer Centre (VCC) receives between 100-150 referrals for patients with brain and spinal cord tumours per year and survival often comes with physical and mental changes, caused not just by the tumour but also by its treatment.

It is therefore a priority for future brain tumour research to reduce the side effects of treatment as well as improving survival. The brain tumour team at VCC has recently introduced a highly precise form of radiotherapy treatment in Wales, called stereotactic radiosurgery, avoiding the need for brain surgery in certain cases and reducing side effects for patients. The team is also striving to ensure patients are offered opportunities to be involved in national and international clinical trials allowing access to the latest treatments which will improve outcomes for patients both now and in the future. Brain tumour research activity in the UK has been underfunded and poorly supported compared to other forms of cancer with less than 2% of the £500 million invested in cancer research in the UK every year spent on brain tumour research.

Velindre Cancer Centre has launched Headfirst: The Velindre Brain Tumour Appeal to increase awareness and raise the profile of brain and spinal cord tumour research in Wales. The fund is managed by Dr James Powell and Dr Owen Tilsley and will provide support for local brain tumour research projects with the aim of improving understanding and treatment of brain tumours and increasing brain tumour research activity in Wales. Headfirst will also provide educational grants for doctors, nurses and other health professionals involved in the care of patients with brain tumours at Velindre to attend national meetings to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible care for these patients. It will also provide funding to help purchase equipment to improve the way we treat brain tumour patients. Despite encouraging progress over the last few years, brain tumours remain a difficult disease to treat but your support of the Headfirst Appeal will help us advance research and improve treatment for patients with brain and spinal cord tumours in Wales.

Mike’s Story

After being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in 2016 you could forgive policeman Mike Evans for slowing down. But nothing can stop this South Wales Police officer. Mike from Bridgend, is a 10 times Ironman who had initially put his symptoms down to fatigue from training. Even after the full picture of his cancer became clear, he has refused to slow down and in fact set himself two challenges. One is to raise as much money as possible for Velindre, where he is having treatment, another is to reduce the amount of time patients have to wait for an MRI. In his bid to raise awareness of his condition, Wales international rugby players have worn the “Team Evsy” wristbands designed by his daughter. Lily wanted to cancel her travelling plans but her Dad urged her to carry on. She was in Cambodia during the England v Wales game, when she switched the television on to see Wales captain Sam Warburton on live TV wearing a “Team Evsy” wristband. Jamie Roberts, George North, Rhys Webb, Scott Baldwin among others have all shown their support by wearing the bands.