At the end of August 2017 I was driving home from work after two weeks away to spend my 32nd birthday at home with my wife. Around 10 minutes from home I got ringing in my ears and tunnel vision, I was driving over a bridge with nowhere to stop, just before I passed out I managed to pull my van into the small verge in the fast lane and stop. I was taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and was sent home the same day.
After visiting my doctor a few days later he thought it could be a trapped nerve but decided to send me for an MRI to make sure it was nothing serious. Unfortunately, the MRI showed I had a brain tumour, which was diagnosed as a high grade 4 malignant glioblastoma. Surgery was booked for a week later and thankfully went well. After recovering from the surgery I underwent six weeks of combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try to control the remaining part of the tumour that could not be removed. I finished that treatment in January 2018 and am now currently getting high dose chemotherapy treatment for the next five months.
Glioblastoma is the commonest form of brain tumour but also the most deadly. At best, with the current options available for treatment, I have been told I have a possible 12-14 months to live. Even though brain tumours are the commonest cause of cancer death in adults under 40, less than 2% of National Cancer research money is spent on brain tumours.
We are setting up a fund to try to allow treatments for this tumour to be available. At present there is nothing available in the UK for patients in this terrible situation. However, the lead neuro-oncology consultant at Ninewells, Mr Kismet Hossain-Ibrahim, has written to the Scottish government to start immunotherapy for brain tumour patients in Scotland. Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart has recently discussed the under-recognised significance of brain tumours in the Scottish Parliament and 560 MSPs signed a motion calling for greater awareness of brain tumours. Immunotherapy offers the best chance of long-term survival in brain tumour patients. Life expectancy when glioblastoma recurs is only 4 – 6 months.