As viewers tune into Holby City to see what lies ahead for surgeon Ric Griffin as he faces risky surgery for his meningioma, Hugh Quarshie gives us an exclusive chat about the heartbreaking storyline.
“It has struck home how vulnerable and fragile life can be and how indiscriminate brain tumours are – they can affect any of us at any time,” he says.
“And I was shocked by The Brain Tumour Charity’s statistic that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK.”
But Hugh engaged with our supporters on Twitter who commented that low-grade (non-cancerous) brain tumours can have a brutal impact, too, and in some cases be life-threatening.
“Ric’s tumour is very large which makes surgery extremely difficult and risky - he could die on the operating table or suffer a stroke,” says Hugh.
“Even so-called ‘benign’ tumours can have a devastating impact – and can be difficult, dangerous and delicate to operate on.
“Ric’s storyline has given me respect for people who are living with the reality of a brain tumour and the challenges they face every day.”
Many of our supporters share Ric’s instinct that something was seriously wrong in the lead-up to their diagnoses.
“Ric was aware that something was going on but he was in denial,” says Hugh who has gowned up for 18 years as Holby’s longest-serving cast member.
“At first, he thought his symptoms of confusion, forgetfulness and mood swings could be caused by dementia.”
Part of Hugh’s preparation for the storyline was reading Do No Harm by eminent neurosurgeon Henry Marsh-coincidentally they both studied politics, philosophy and economics at Christ Church, Oxford University, but not at the same time.
“I’d read it before but read it again when I was told Ric was going to be diagnosed with a brain tumour,” says Royal Shakespeare Company actor, Hugh, who was Captain Panaka in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.
“It highlights the astonishing skill and compassion of neurosurgeons and how they have to make split life or death decisions.”
And Hugh praised our mission to defeat brain tumours and achieve our goals of doubling survival rate within 10 years and halving the harm brain tumours have on quality of life.
“I applaud The Brain Tumour Charity’s vital work and support for people living with brain tumours,” he says.
- Holby City is on BBC 1, 8pm Tuesday
Interview by Carol Dyce
Pic credit © BBC