The family of a man from Whitehaven are continuing their fight to find a cure after he died of an aggressive and incurable brain tumour.
Chris Todd, a former miner, was 63-years-old when he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour after suffering violent headaches and stroke-like symptoms.
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His family marked the sixth anniversary of his death on Saturday (November 6) and since then have been working tirelessly to find a cure.
His daughter Vicky Todd, also from Whitehaven, said: “Dad was taken ill on Mother’s Day 2014 and we thought it could be his heart because he had previously had two cardiac arrests. We went backwards and forwards to medical appointments, but it wasn’t until June 2 that, fearing Dad had suffered a stroke, the GP referred him to West Cumberland Hospital.
“Within two hours of arriving, we were told he had a brain tumour. Dad, mum, my brother Karl and I were all together – we are a close family – when we were told the news. At that stage we had no idea that the tumour was cancerous.”
Tragically, Chris’ brain tumour turned out to be a deadly glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) which carries an average survival prognosis of 12 to 18 months. Despite surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, nothing could save Chris.
Months before his death, Chris, along with his family, attended an event at Speaker’s House organised by Brain Tumour Research during March, brain tumour awareness month, which ends with Wear A Hat Day for brain tumours.
Vicky had previously been invited to the charity’s Centre of Excellence at Imperial College in London, where she put up a tile on the Wall of Hope to signify a day of research sponsored by their fundraising.
Vicky set up a Fundraising Group under the umbrella of the charity Brain Tumour Research which she called In Chris’ Memory as her “way of coping” which was officially launched on the first anniversary of losing her dad. To date, along with support from her mum Audrey and brother Karl, as well as friends and supporters, In Chris’ Memory has raised around £32,000 to sponsor vital research, including funds raised by Chris himself before he passed away.
As well as Vicky’s raffles, charity auctions and family fun days, taking part in Wear A Hat Day and selling Christmas cards, Karl ran the London Marathon in 2017 and, during March this year, to mark what should have been his dad’s 70th birthday, Karl challenged himself to run 70 miles.
Karl, who lives in Workington, said: “Dad was like a rock to me; he was strong and supportive and allowed me to build my life the way I wanted.”
Marking the fifth anniversary on Saturday, Vicky added: “I still miss Dad terribly – he was such a fun-loving person, always playing tricks and getting everyone laughing. We had such good times with him. He was in high spirits up until a few weeks before his death and even in the midst of his palliative care he had the nurses laughing too.
“We launched In Chris’ Memory to raise awareness and funds for research so that good can come out of Dad’s death.
“We wouldn’t have got through the last few years without the support of Brain Tumour Research and were delighted to hear that scientists at the charity’s Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London announced last month they had made a breakthrough in their research into GBM brain tumours.
“This will bring hope to other families who have a loved one diagnosed with this type of cancer – hope that we didn’t have because we knew his diagnosis was a death sentence.”
Chris’ widow Audrey said: “Even five years on, life doesn’t get any easier. Chris’ passing has had a massive impact on all our lives. He was such a personality – everyone loved him.”
Less than 12% of patients diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with 50% across all cancers, yet historically just 1% of the national cancer spending has been allocated to researching the disease.
Matthew Price, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to the Todd family for setting up In Chris’ Memory and we know that Chris will never be forgotten. It’s great they are doing something so positive and supporting research to find a cure for this devastating disease which kills more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
“Chris’ tragic story is a stark reminder that brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any time – it’s the reason we remain so focused on finding a cure.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the 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 calling 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 and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
To donate to In Chris’ Memory on the fifth anniversary go to justgiving.com/inchrismemory. So far, more than £26,000 has been pledged.
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