‘I cannot stand by without doing all I can to change this chronic underfunding’ - King’s Lynn father’s fight for brain tumour research funding in memory of daughter
- Credit: Archant
With March being Brain Tumour Awareness Month, reporter TAZ ALI looks into the efforts made by Lisa Wiles Red Wellies - a King's Lynn charity set up to fight this devastating disease.
A grieving father has told of his anguish after losing his daughter to cancer - but is carrying on her legacy by campaigning for more funding to go towards research into brain tumours.
Mervyn Wiles, 71, from Middleton near King's Lynn, lost his daughter, Lisa Wiles, in 2011 when she was just 43 years old.
With what started as a painful headache, the mother-of-three went back and forth to hospital for a year before she was finally diagnosed with a grade-four glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour.
'It was all such a shock,' Mr Wiles said.
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His daughter was a fit and healthy woman living in King's Lynn and had a promising life. She was in her final year of studying for a BA (Hons) in psychology and sociology.
Despite undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, which made her very sick and resulted in her losing her hair, she continued with her studies and attended college regardless.
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'She also began to raise money for research into brain tumours,' Mr Wiles added. 'She had already donated some of her tumour to research and competed in the Race for Life and other sponsored events - knowing that it wouldn't help her, but she wanted to help prevent others from going through the same thing.'
In July 2011, an MRI scan revealed the original tumour had not grown since she underwent surgery - but devastatingly it showed another unrelated tumour on the left side of her brain, which she was told was inoperable.
Mr Wiles said: 'Wanting to make the most of the precious time we had left with Lisa, we went on a lovely family holiday to Turkey.
'However, even though this was less than a month after the new diagnosis, we began to see changes. Lisa's face began to droop and her speech became slurred. By September 2011, Lisa was using a wheelchair and needed more full-time care.'
A month later, she started to slip in and out of consciousness. She passed away with her friends and family around her, after only 14 months since being diagnosed.
'As Lisa began to embark on her final battle, her family gathered around her. We lay with her for a week, sharing memories, praying, laughing and crying,' Mr Wiles said.
'On Thursday, October 13, at 12.07pm, our beautiful daughter took her final breath.'
After losing his eldest daughter, Mr Wiles and his wife Rosalie, along with their two children Hayley Spano and Damien Wiles and grandchildren Zach, Shannon and Cameron, set up the Lisa Wiles Red Wellies - a member charity of national charity Brain Tumour Research.
They have all worked tirelessly to raise funds for a disease which only receives 1pc of national funds towards research, despite killing more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
Mr Wiles believes that had there been more funding available at the time, his daughter's life could have been prolonged.
'The options were so limited for Lisa,' he said. 'We felt absolute sorrow, anger and frustration.
'We had originally thought she had five years to live, but she only had 14 months.
'This is why I am joining with Brain Tumour Research – it's too late for her, but other families with loved ones diagnosed with brain tumours need to have the comfort that more effective treatments have been identified and ultimately a cure found for this devastating disease.'
Since their launch in 2012, Red Wellies have raised an astonishing £70,000 to fund equipment in a new laboratory in Addenbrooke's Hospital, by way of sponsored marathons, presentations and fund-raisers.
Mr Wiles, along with Brain Tumour Research, is also 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.
Mr Wiles added: 'There is more advanced research with other cancers, we just don't have the same kind of knowledge for brain tumours.
'I cannot stand by without doing all I can to change this chronic underfunding. I want Lisa's legacy to help find a cure for this deadly disease and I don't want her name to be forgotten.'