ABTF trustee Linda Rickford’s story

Mary Burton

Hi all.  People sometimes ask how I became involved in the charity so thought I would share.

Our son, David, was 24 when diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and was cleared of this in early 2008. We celebrated!

However, during that summer, he started falling asleep all the time, and this progressed to nausea and constant vomiting. He was admitted to hospital three times over a fortnight but was discharged each time with a diagnosis of gastritis. He was told to stop ‘burning the candle’ and that ‘they have people sicker than him that they needed the beds for.’

In desperation, we consulted a private doctor who immediately did an MRI and diagnosed a brain tumour. David was rushed to St George’s Hospital in Tooting where he underwent emergency surgery. We were told we would have lost him had there been further delay.  We were also told that his prior radiotherapy may have caused the tumour.  I was so angry and frustrated that the ‘cure for cancer causes cancer’ and I searched the internet looking for support and/or ways to help.

I discovered Astro Brain Tumour Fund, which focuses on raising funds specifically for research in to low grade gliomas, and I started fundraising for the charity. I feel strongly that if we could halt the low grades in their tracks, then we could live with what had happened without the fear of tumour regrowth or progression…how great that would be, and it would give David a chance to see his son grow up into a young man.

I started lobbying and campaigning for more awareness by contacting my local newspapers with our story, and my MP, and also started fundraising by doing car boot sales, pamper days, bag packs at my local store and afternoon teas at my home, raising over the next few years some £10,000. The trustees then invited me to join the team; I was delighted and very honoured to do so.   I then helped set up the Facebook support group and my main responsibility, alongside continued lobbying and fundraising, is to monitor and admin the group.  I am pleased to report that David is now 12 years out from his surgery and is doing well.  However, we know that we are very lucky as only 12% of brain tumour patients survive longer than 5 years and the clock is ticking!  We desperately need funds for valuable research into these rare tumours.  If you would like to help raise funds for Astro Brain Tumour Fund, please do contact me or the charity and we can help with such things as fundraising ideas, T shirts, leaflets.