Milton Keynes teacher and brain tumour survivor appeals for your help

Claire Whittle with her son James
Claire Whittle with her son James

A pioneering charity based in Milton Keynes, is seeking runners who can help fund scientific research to find a cure for brain tumours.

Brain Tumour Research, based at Shenley Pavilions in Shenley Wood, is asking people across the area who have secured a place in next year’s Virgin Money London Marathon to consider raising money for its cause.

Mark Whittle

Mark Whittle

The disease kills more children and adults under the age of 40 but has been allocated just 1% of the national spend on cancer research. The charity is striving to fund a network of seven dedicated research centres whilst challenging the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research.

Mum, Claire Whittle, aged 56, who teaches French and Swimming at Stanton School in Milton Keynes, and lives in Olney, was diagnosed with a brain tumour after collapsing in March 2011 with a massive blackout. She was taken by ambulance to Milton Keynes General where, fortunately for Claire, a doctor there recognised the signs immediately.

Claire said: “Before I knew it I was being taken to the John Radcliffe for an MRI, followed almost immediately by a six hour operation. A hard-nosed clinical nurse specialist gave me the results of the biopsy. She walked into the room with a big white envelope and stated bluntly ‘I know all about it. There is no cure… but the good news is that you can have a bus pass.’

“Maybe it was the shock of finding out I had a grade 2/3 brain tumour, or maybe I just wanted to prove the nurse wrong, but I took the attitude that I was just going to get on with life and that I WOULD one day be a grandma!”

Claire continued: “Since finding out I had a brain tumour, I wanted to do something to help fund research so that other people with the same diagnosis have a better chance of survival. I have run several 10Ks and the Silverstone half marathon a few times and my eldest son, Mark, ran the London Marathon. Between us, we have raised around £5,000 for Brain Tumour Research.

“Also, my youngest son, James, took on the Atlantic with a friend in December last year when they rowed 3,000 miles in a challenge widely regarded as the hardest-race-on-earth, raising more than £6,000 for the charity to fund vital research.

“Just 20% of brain tumour patients survive five years so I count myself as very lucky. It’s a sad fact that brain tumours can affect anyone at any time but no-one knows what causes them. Treatments for patients like me are very limited. I hope that people will help us change this by running the 2017 marathon for Brain Tumour Research.”

Some 40 runners are already signed up to support the charity by seeking sponsorship for the event which takes place on April 23rd. Many others who have received a sought-after ballot place are still choosing if they will support a charity and, if so, which one.

“For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer,” said Carol Robertson, community fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research.

“Stories like Claire’s remind us all that we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue. We are appealing for runners to nominate us as their chosen charity for 2017 and make a difference. Together we will find a cure.”

To find out more about how to support the charity contact Carol at carol@braintumourresearch.org