Bereaved Rugby dad welcomes new inquiry report demanding action for brain tumour patients after losing young son

“I remain determined to push this through for Stephen”
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A bereaved dad who lost his much-loved son to a brain tumour has welcomed a new cross-party report demanding urgent action to help those affected by the disease.

Peter Realf, who has been campaigning since the death of his 26-year-old son Stephen, said the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT) is calling for wide-ranging changes to be in made in how research into the disease is funded.

The inquiry report: Pathway to a Cure – breaking down the barriers, launched this week at a Westminster reception, jointly hosted by Brain Tumour Research and the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT) calls out the current funding system as unfit for purpose and claims patients and families continue to be let down.

Peter Realf.Peter Realf.
Peter Realf.

Peter said: “It was only through Stephen’s diagnosis and subsequent death that I realised how desperately underfunded research into brain tumours was and how few treatment options are available for this horrific disease. I was angry to learn that there had been next to no change in the last two decades in the way his brain tumour is treated.”

Peter has been campaigning for change alongside Brain Tumour Research, since 2015 when his family launched a petition calling for funding into brain tumours to be increased to £30 - £35 million a year to bring it into line with funding for other charities. It attracted more than 120,000 signatures, becoming the first petition to prompt an inquiry by the new House of Commons Petitions Committee.

The subsequent Task and Finish Group published its report in early 2018 prompting the Government’s announcement that it would allocate £20 million for research into brain tumours, boosted by a pledge of £25 million from Cancer Research UK. Stephen’s story was included in the APPGBT report.

“Stephen left behind a large circle of family and friends deeply affected by what they had witnessed happening to him,” added Peter.

Stephen Realf.Stephen Realf.
Stephen Realf.

Stephen was diagnosed with a low-grade astrocytoma brain tumour aged 19 while he was training to become a pilot in the RAF. He underwent surgery to remove an orange-sized tumour, losing his authority to fly or drive a car.

Two years later the tumour started re-growing and had become high-grade. Stephen underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Despite receiving all the standard NHS treatment, Stephen ran out of options and passed away six years after diagnosis, having lost the ability to speak, eat or even get out of bed.

Peter added: “It was only through Stephen’s diagnosis and subsequent death that I realised how desperately underfunded research into brain tumours was and how few treatment options are available for this horrific disease.

“The £20 million pledged by the Government in early 2018 I regard as Stephen’s legacy. Just after Tessa Jowell died in 2018, the Government promised a further £20 million into brain tumour research, but so far just £15 million of this £40 million in total has been allocated. Yet just 12% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers.

"I remain determined to push this through for Stephen.”

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