A teenager who is living with the life-changing side effects of treatment for a low-grade brain tumour is campaigning for people to help fund research into the killer disease.
Charlotte Reid, aged 17, was just three when she started suffering from headaches but it was not until two years ago that her brain tumour was finally diagnosed after she was referred to specialist after a routine eye test at Vision Express in Exeter.
She underwent treatment in the UK and then in America followed by surgery a year ago once she was back home. The Sidmouth girl has been documenting her journey on a Facebook page and, together with her mum Angela, she is campaigning with the national charity Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of brain tumours which kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
This March, which is National Brain Tumour Awareness month, the mother and daughter team are urging people to take part in Wear A Hat Day, the UK’s premier brain tumour awareness event which takes place on Friday 31 March.
Angela said: “Prior to her diagnosis, Charlotte was like any other teenage girl. She was interested in fashion and make up and enjoyed pop music, particularly Adele, Little Mix and Ellie Goulding. Now, while she can cook a simple meal, she has to be reminded about getting dressed and brushing her teeth. Our world seemed to alter the most six months after Charlotte’s treatment which was a necessary evil. Her life has been turned upside down by the side effects which are huge and life-changing and I am so glad we didn’t know before about the damage it would cause.”
Brain Tumour Research funds a network of Centres of Excellence including one at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry where Professor Oliver Hanemann and his team are focusing on low-grade tumours, which typically affect children and young adults.
The work of Plymouth scientists focuses on identifying and understanding the mechanism that makes a cell become cancerous and exploring ways in which to halt or reverse that mechanism. They are finding new biomarkers and drug targets in human primary cell cultures and investigating how existing drugs could be re-purposed to make drug therapies available to patients safely and more quickly.
Now in its eighth year, Wear A Hat Day is supported by Debbie McGee, who lost husband Paul Daniels to a brain tumour a year ago, celebrated milliner Stephen Jones OBE who cared for a terminally ill friend, actress and broadcaster Sheila Hancock CBE whose grandson was successfully treated, and singer, songwriter and record producer John Newman. All funds raised by Wear A Hat Day will help develop the charity’s world-class brain tumour research centres including the one in Plymouth.
Charlotte and her mum are campaigning to raise awareness of brain tumours and, along with Brain Tumour Research, lobbying the government and larger cancer charities to see the national spend increased to £30m - £35m a year, in line with other cancers such as breast and leukaemia.
Wear A Hat Day will see schools, workplaces, families and individuals across the UK fundraising and taking part in all manner of hat-themed fun events to raise awareness of brain tumours and help fund life-saving research. Funds raised through 2017’s event will develop the charity’s network of world-class brain tumour research centres in the UK.