On Monday, I welcomed constituent Maria Lester to Parliament, where her e-petition calling for greater funding for research into brain tumours was being debated by MPs, having been signed by over 120,000 people. Maria (pictured with me above) first got in touch with me last year, after her brother Stephen tragically died of a brain tumour in 2014, aged just 26. Stephen had been training as a pilot in the RAF when his cancer was diagnosed, and had his whole life ahead of him. Sadly, brain tumours claim around 3,600 lives a year, and they kill more adults under 40 than any other cancer.
Promoting awareness about brain tumours is something I’ve been involved with for a while. In 2013, I led a debate in Parliament on efforts to cut the diagnosis delay in brain tumours to 5 weeks, in conjunction with the Headsmart campaign and the Brain Tumour Charity. Measures like providing parents with ‘symptom awareness’ cards via schools can help to save thousands of families heartache by making earlier diagnosis more likely.
Research into brain tumours is significantly lower than that into other cancers – just 1.5% (£7.7 million) of the £498 million national spend on cancer research was spent on brain tumours in 2014. Maria’s petition calls for this to be raised to £30-£35 million. There is huge attention and focus on other forms of cancer, but this isn’t a zero sum game. We can work to fight cancer on all fronts, supporting those who campaign to raise awareness of the heartbreak and tragedy that brain tumours can cause. You can read the Hansard report of yesterday’s important debate here.