The parents of a former employee Darel Bryan, who sadly lost his life to a brain tumour, were at Westminster for the launch of a new inquiry into the economic and social impacts of the disease.
Sara and Clifford Bryan, along with daughter, Claudine, joined other families, patients, campaigners, and charity workers at the invitation of the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons and a Patron of the national charity Brain Tumour Research.
The Inquiry was announced by a group of cross-party MPs and peers on 28th February and will run throughout spring and summer.
The Bryans, who travelled from their home in Bellingham, in South London, were among the first to be invited to submit their evidence on a web forum facilitated by the charity. Their son, Darel, was diagnosed with multiple aggressive and incurable brain tumours, and, underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, as well as two craniotomies. Tragically, he passed away in February 2016, aged just 34.
In his memory, Darel’s partner, Natalie Overs set up a fundraising group, The Darel Bryan Foundation, and family members, friends and work colleagues have taken part in a number of events to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research. Clarion, where Sara still works and also where Darel worked as a housing officer until he became ill, has chosen The Darel Bryan Foundation as their charity of the year and was represented at the Speaker’s House event by Sandra Sanglin, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Richard Hay, Customer Accounts Team Leader. Since his passing, The Darel Bryan Foundation with Clarion has raised over £100,000 in his memory.
Welcoming the Inquiry, Sara said: "I think it is hard to fully understand the impact a brain tumour diagnosis has on your family unless you’ve been through it. For example, Natalie spent days and, even weeks in hospital, both night and day with Darel, while we travelled backwards and forwards to give our son our support. The emotional burden is hard, there is the worry about money and disruption to work, as well as so many other things to think of."
Natalie, who attended the event at Speaker’s House last year, said: "Darel endured six weeks of radiotherapy, 12 months of five different chemotherapies, two surgeries, over five months of hospital stays and every alternative and natural treatment we could lay our hands on, but his battle was never one he was going to win."
In a nod to Wear A Hat Day, the fundraising campaign which takes place on Thursday 29th March, Caprice and other celebrity supporters including TV presenter Sarah Beeny, and celebrated milliner Noel Stewart, Sara, Clifford and Claudine donned their favourite headwear for a photo call.
The lack of investment in research into brain tumours, meaning treatments and survival rates lag significantly behind other cancers, has become a high-profile political issue with momentum building since January. Former Minister for Public Health and Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, who was diagnosed with a high grade glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) last year, received a standing ovation when she shared her story in the House of Lords.
The following month, the Government published the findings of a year-long Working Group including recommendations on how to increase the level and impact of research in brain tumours. An announcement revealing £45 million of research investment followed.
Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: "Brain tumours have been a neglected form of cancer for decades, killing more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. This Inquiry will shine a light on the social and economic impacts of brain tumours adding weight to our arguments and landing a huge urgency to our call for further funding to improve patient outcomes and offer much-needed hope to families."
"Whilst we welcome the funding announcement, the fact that the funds are spread over five years means that brain tumours remain a poor relation to other better-funded cancers."
To take part in the inquiry go to www.braintumourresearch.org/campaigning/inquiry.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 30th March.