Alex was born two months prematurely on the 11th of November, 1991. He lived in Bedlington, Northumberland with his Dad, Brian and his Mam, Angela, until his sister, Eilish, was born on the 19th of April, 1994.
Growing up, he loved being surrounded by his family and friends and was focussed on living every day of his life to the full in order to achieve the high goals he set himself.
He was a talented drummer and his dream was to attend world renowned Tech Music School in London, to study for a Bachelor of Music degree, specifically in drumming. His long term goal was not to be rich and famous, but to work as a session musician and play varied styles of drumming, which he loved. After sitting four A levels and achieving excellent grades, he auditioned for a coveted place at Tech and he was overjoyed to be granted one. In September, 2010, despite never being away from home before, he moved 300 miles away to Acton in London, to begin his university career. He soon made a very close circle of friends and loved university life, often telling his family that he was living his dream.
Alex was very fit due to length of time he spent drumming, he was a regular gym member and loved exploring London on foot. Therefore it was very unusual when in April, he started to feel unwell, suffering from severe headaches and sickness. He was repeatedly diagnosed with stress, and as well as prescribed medication, his family and friends tried everything possible to help, all to no avail. In June, he was finally sent for an urgent MRI scan at Charing Cross Hospital by a worried GP, who felt that there must be some underlying problem. Results showed that he had a massive tumour on the right frontal lobe of his brain, which required immediate surgery and arrangements were made for him to be operated on in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, so that he could be near to his family at this very difficult time. Brian travelled through the night to collect him and have him in Newcastle for 9 o’clock the next morning.
“His family and friends will love and think of Alex every single day. In the words of Alex, “We must all fight on and NEVER give up hope that a cure is just around the corner.”
Alex underwent life-saving surgery to remove the tumour and the right frontal lobe of his brain. He bounced back and was home three days later, determined to be back behind his beloved drum kit as soon as possible. Returning to hospital a week later, he was given the devastating news that the tumour was malignant and an incurable one, although it could hopefully be controlled for as long as possible with treatment. He asked not to be given a prognosis as he did not want to live out the remainder of his life under a potential death sentence and he vowed to be back in London for the start of the next semester.
He had a six week course of concurrent stereotactic radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and then began a further six months of chemotherapy. His London friends were a tremendous support and gave his family the confidence to let him fulfil his wish to return to London in October for three weeks out of every four, when his chemotherapy treatment was not being administered. Every month, Brian made the 1200 mile round trip to collect him from London and bring him back home for treatment, then return him a week later. Alex never once complained, or made a fuss and he always had a smile on his face.
In February, 2012, his family contacted his consultant to ask whether he could have an MRI, as they had concerns about his health. On the 20th of March, he had one and was told that the tumour had returned to the left frontal lobe of his brain and further surgery was out of the question. He still stayed upbeat and continued to fight on with tremendous courage, which was an inspiration to everyone around him.
Despite recognising the excellence of his hospital care, as his health deteriorated he hated going in to hospital, so his family made the decision to keep him at home for the remainder of his days.
Alex passed away peacefully at home on the 23rd of July, 2012 surrounded by his family.
Photostory of Alex, made by his sister Eilish.
We must all fight on
On 29th November 2012, Alex’s Teenage Cancer Nurse, Penny Daley and staff at Tech Music School, London arranged for him to graduate posthumously with his peers at Wembley Stadium. This would have been a great honour to him and his sister, Eilish, collected the award on his behalf.
When Alex was first diagnosed, he told Angela that if he died, he did not want any floral tributes. Instead he wanted any money in lieu to be donated to the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, now The Brain Tumour Charity. He felt that the only way to stop other people and their families going through what he and his family had was to research and develop new treatments and eventually find a cure for this devastating tumour. After his death, his family promised to fulfil his wish.
His family and friends will love and think of Alex every single day. Finally, in the words of Alex, “We must all fight on and NEVER give up hope that a cure is just around the corner.”