28 Jun Father-of-two with inoperable tumour calls for more than 1% of budget to be spent on brain cancer | UK News
A father of two young girls with an inoperable brain tumour is helping front a campaign to get better funding for research to find a cure.
Sam Suriakumar, 35, was on his way home from work on the Tube in London 16 months ago when, out of the blue, he had a seizure.
He woke up in hospital to hear the news that they had found a tumour.
“I didn’t hear the explanation, the diagnosis, where it is, which side, I just thought ‘I’ve got a brain tumour and I’m probably not going to last the week’ and my immediate thoughts went to my daughters,” he said.
There had been no sign that the web of cancer had been growing in the left side of his head, not even a headache.
But within a fortnight, he had been told it was inoperable.
“Everyone has just lifted me up by every limb and got me up again and I’m fighting, I’m fighting really hard at the moment,” he said.
Brain tumours can affect anyone at any age, but they kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer.
But Hugh Adams from the charity Brain Tumour Research says not enough funding is being allocated to finding a cure.
The charity wants £35m to be made available for research every year.
“We have seen, in a generation, a prognosis for a breast cancer patient or a leukaemia patient turned on its head from investment in research and we haven’t seen that for brain tumour patients,” he said.
“It’s clear we need to do more, to do better for those diagnosed with this devastating disease.”
The statistics are not good.
They show that 88% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour die within five years.
And they are the cause of 35% of all cancer deaths in children, yet just 1% of national funding for cancer research is allocated to brain tumours.
The charity has launched a campaign called ‘Stop the Devastation’, which includes a short video featuring Mr Suriakumar and others whose lives have been hit by the cancer with the aim of highlighting the underfunding and encouraging people to donate.
“There are so many questions I have that I don’t have any answers to but I’m very passionate to get answers for myself and answers for other people,” Mr Suriakumar said.
The large tumour is currently being monitored with regular scans and thankfully it does not seem to be growing at the moment, but he is likely to need chemotherapy and maybe radiotherapy in the future.
Mr Suriakumar’s wife Dr Sindhu Samuel, a GP, is proud that he chose to be part of the campaign.
“You don’t want to think about it. All I can say is we live for every day,” she said through tears.
“We don’t try to think too far ahead. Yeah… it’s difficult.”
Avaana, who is six, and four-year-old Arya, call the cancer in their father’s head “the cuckoo”.
They hope one day it will fly away.
There are no guarantees of that, but for now, the family’s aim is to make happy memories while they hold out for a cure.
“My girls are my biggest inspiration and my biggest fear,” said Mr Suriakumar.
“Everything I do right now is fighting for that opportunity to be with them as they grow up, to celebrate all their good times and their achievements and to give them a hug in their bad times.”