My name is Charlene McEwan and I am 35 years of age. In September 2011 I suffered a massive brain haemorrhage resulting in emergency surgery which revealed the underlying cause to be a tumour in the right frontal lobe of my brain. The neurosurgeons who operated on me at the Southern General Hospital were absolutely fantastic and were able to remove the tumour in full but a week later after further tests I was dealt the terrifying blow that I had incurable cancer and that although my disease could be put into remission with treatment it will absolutely return in the near future, possibly more aggresive than before and the long term survival rates are low.
On the day of my diagnosis I was thrown into complete turmoil. My husband and I had just celebrated our first wedding anniversary, we had just bought our dream home and were planning our first child. I had basically gone from having a near perfect life to living in the depths of despair but after a short time digesting my prognosis I decided that I wanted to fight this thing that had so rudely interrupted my life. In October 2011 I started a 6 week intensive course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy through the Beatson West Of Scotland Cancer Centre and in August 2012 I completed a further 8 month chemotherapy cycle. Things are looking good at the moment and the recent brain scan I had in September 2017 showed all clear.
Through my fight I have realised the importance of raising awareness of how brain cancers can strike suddenly and fatally as I had no symptoms other than one headache however I am absolutely astonished at the lack of funding for research into brain cancers in the United Kingdom where brain tumours receive only 2% of funds allocated to cancer research as a whole. When you consider that brain tumours kill more adults under 40 and more children in the UK than leukaemia or any other cancer, and the fact that unlike many cancers the survival rates for brain tumours have not significantly improved in Britain for over 40 years a figure of 2% for British brain tumour research is woeful to say the very least.
At the moment options for patients whose disease has recurred are limited. I would like to think that by the time my cancer returns there will have been some medical breakthrough that will give me a fighting chance but this is never going to happen unless the funding increases and this for me, my family and others in our position is just devastating.
The Neuro-Oncology Team at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre headed up by Professor Anthony Chalmers are angels. They are not only highly skilled and professional but they are supportive and sensitive towards their patients and their families and outwardly passionate about what they do. Sadly I can see the frustration in them at the limitations around funding for research and this has inspired me to want to make a difference.
Through the Neuro-Oncology Team at the Beatson I have been kept up to date on certain pieces of research that Professor Chalmers is leading and through this I became aware of the University of Glasgow Brain Tumour Research Fund which has been used to fund some of this research. The overall purpose of the Fund is to support brain tumour research, allowing projects to be kick-started without having to go through the prolonged and unpredictable process of applying for external funding through Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council. Sometimes these smaller projects produce valuable findings in themselves but often they generate evidence that research ideas are plausible which increases the chances of the research teams getting large scale funding from external bodies to take projects forward. Please visit: http://www.gla.ac.uk/about/givingtoglasgow/medicalfund/braintumourresearch/
for details about ongoing and proposed research projects supported by the University of Glasgow Brain Tumour Research Fund and please visit: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/find-a-clinical-trial/a-trial-looking-at-olaparib-with-temozolomide-glioblastoma-has-come-back for an example of an ongoing breakthrough clinical trial funded by Cancer Research UK and led by Professor Chalmers which was kicked off by a smaller project supported by the University of Glasgow Brain Tumour Research Fund.
* 2016's Fundraising campaign started with a bang in January when my colleague Dan Corbett very kindly donated 8 tickets for 6 Nations Rugby matches which we auctioned off and raised £600!! Matched Funding brought it to £1200 so a great start to our 2016 campaign!!
* On 18th March 2016 myself and my work friends in Glasgow and Pitreavie held a Fundraising Day including Cake & Sweet Sales, a Raffle and a Tombola. We raised a total of £820 and Matched Funding made this £1640. Huge thanks to everyone involved!!
* My colleagues in LBG, St Vincent Street held an Easter Raffle in aid of the Charity and managed to raise a fantastic £144.00 (including Matched Funding). Thanks so much guys!!
* On 23rd June myself and my work friends in Glasgow and London held a Charity Day where we sold Cakes and Sweets and held a Raffle. Between us we raised £365 which rose to £730 after Matched Funding. Thanks to everyone involved!
* On 30th October, my netball team Kirkintilloch Bounce Back to Netball Team held a family fun day where we challenged our family and friends to come play us!! Following an afternoon of fun netball games, cake sales and raffles the total raised was £1145!! Special thanks to Gillian Rae for organising.
* My colleague Stephen Louch put his fussy eating to one side and tried some new foods in aid of the UoG BTRF!! As part of "Stephen's Food Challenge", throughout 2016 our Pitreavie Team prepared some culinary delights that Stephen was sponsored to try including haggis, duck, mushrooms and prawns. Well done Stephen!!
Previous years' Fundraising events are detailed below. A huge thank you to everyone involved:
* 02/09/2012 - Bank Of Scotland Great Scottish Run 10K/Half Marathon
* 18/08/2012 - Charity Fundraiser Night in Motherwell Football Club raising £11474.70.
* 05/08/2012 - Cambusnethan Talbot under 19's Football Team Charity Football Match raising £600.00.
* 20/08/2012 - Charity Week at SVS, Glasgow raising £661.71.
* 26/08/2012 - 12hr Spin-a-thon at the Aquatec raising £1667.56.
* End Aug 2012 - Charity Quz in Perth, Western Australia raising £1522.00.
* 2012 - Frances-Anne Murphy Matched Funding - £500.00.
* 2012 - Angela DevineMatched Funding - £10000.00.
* 02/02/2013 - Wellie Waddle around Lanark Loch raising £1778.00.
* 24/08/2013 - Tough Mudder raising £680.00.
* 06/10/2013 - Bank Of Scotland Great Scottish Run 10K.
* 06/10/2013 - Bank Of Scotland Great Scottish Run Half Marathon.
* 19/12/2013 - Fairy Spin Class raising £171.30 - Thanks to Dean Caldwell.
* 2014 - Dougie Holmes 110 10K runs in 11 days.
* 2014 - Maria's Charity Run plus Matched Funding.
* 07/12/2014 - Santa Dash.
* 24/09/2015 - CBCD Bake Sale raising £123.37.
* 01/10/2015 - Group Ops Change Team Cake and Sweet Sale and Raffle raising £475.
* 03/10/2015 - Kirkintilloch Bounce Back To Netball Team Family Fun Day raising £1100.00.
* 18/10/2015 - Colin Simpson Amsterdam Marathon
* 07/11/2015 - Charity Fundraising Night in Motherwell Football Club raising £7500.00. .
* 2015 LBG Matched Funding - £9025.00.
You can see above how a small donation can eventually lead to an important research programme that has a real chance of improving outcomes for patients and we are so grateful to everyone who has supported our efforts so far. For anyone who hasn't yet had the chance to donate or take part in an event we would appreciate your support more than you know. Please join us in our campaign and help us raise funds and awareness for such an amazing cause. You might have noticed that your donation will be going via the University of Glasgow Trust but be assured that 100% of your donation will reach the Brain Tumour Research Fund.
I had actually kept the life-limiting nature of my disease secret for a long time but I am dedicated to doing all I possibly can to raise funds for the University of Glasgow Brain Tumour Research Fund and to raising awareness of brain cancers and I realise that sharing my story is vital to do this. I have faith that if they receive enough funding to carry out the work that they want to do then these amazing researchers and clinicians who provide us with the best care possible with the money they currently have will make the breakthrough that will give people like me a chance for a future.
In the meantime . . . . . Never lose hope. Stay Positive. Be Strong. Treasure each moment.
Lots of Love . . . . . Charlene xxxxx