A brain tumour patient who has undergone two years of gruelling chemotherapy is urging the Government to invest more money into researching the disease.
Shortly after celebrating his 30th birthday in 2017, Lee Masters from Torquay was diagnosed with an inoperable low-grade astrocytoma. It’s after he experienced visual auras and spells of confusion.
His symptoms appeared to ease with migraine medication, however in 2018, Lee suffered two seizures within months of each other and a scan confirmed a mass on his brain.
Lee, who co-owns Ward & Masters Construction with his best friend Marcus Ward, said: “There was a flashing in my left eye and I felt confused, my sense of direction was all off. This continued for a few days and I had to rely on sat nav on my phone to get to places I went to regularly.
“At the time of my first seizure, I was on the phone to my girlfriend, Helen. I didn’t feel right so took myself to my van, sat down and I passed out, hanging up the call with Helen. She managed to phone my business partner who asked a colleague on site to check on me and they found me rooting around the tools in the back of my van. My second seizure happened in front of Helen during a holiday together in Malta. This time she was forced to watch as my body fitted for almost two minutes.”
Despite 12 months of PCV chemotherapy, Lee’s tumour continued to grow and after a biopsy in November 2020, his tumour was reclassified as a grade 3.
He received radiotherapy followed by another year of chemotherapy which he completed in August 2022. A scan at the beginning of October showed Lee’s tumour is stable.
He said: “Over the years I’ve researched other treatments and made changes to my lifestyle and diet.
“I understand that there have been advances in treatment available overseas but it seems outrageous that as well as living with this disease, patients are often self-funding and looking at alternative treatments themselves.”
Over the last three years, Lee and his family have raised more than £5,000 for the charity Brain Tumour Research, by taking part in their own Walk of Hope.
He is now campaigning alongside the charity to help reach 100,000 signatures on its petition to increase research funding, in the hope of prompting a parliamentary debate.
The charity is calling on the Government to ring-fence £110 million of current and new funding to kick-start an increase in the national investment in brain tumour research to £35 million a year by 2028.
Brain tumours kill more men under 70 than prostate cancer and one in three people know someone affected by a brain tumour.
Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are grateful to Lee for sharing his story and supporting our petition and helping to raise awareness.
“For too long governments have put brain tumours on the ‘too difficult to think about’ pile. Five years after the Government announced £40 million for brain cancer research, less than £11 million has been spent. Patients and families continue to be let down by a funding system that is built in silos and not fit for purpose.
“If everyone can spare just a few minutes to sign and share, we will soon hit the 100,000 signatures we need and help find a cure, bringing hope to families whose loved ones have been affected by brain tumours.”
To sign and share the petition before it closes at the end of October 2023, go to www.braintumourresearch.org/petition
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.
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