Gabby Allen opens her heart about her “funny, caring” dad losing his life to a brain tumour

Friday 23 March 2018

Love Island star and personal trainer Gabby is sharing her story for the first time through us in Brain Tumour Awareness Month (BTAM)

Not a day goes by that I don't miss my dad – but I know he'd be so proud I'm helping to raise awareness."

At 20, Gabby Allen was a third-year student at theatre school and her brother, Ethan, was studying for his A-levels.

But their lives were turned upside down when dad Mike was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, the most common aggressive brain tumour in adults.

Just 10 months after diagnosis, he died at the age of 54 in his wife Paula's arms in a hospice.

Now Gabby is sharing her story to mark Brain Tumour Awareness Month and to help us raise awareness about this cruel disease – the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK.

You can only truly understand the devastating impact of this disease if you and your family have been through it," said Gabby, pictured above with boyfriend Marcel Somerville at the Brainbop ball to raise money for us to fund vital research.

Sadly, it's too late for my dad but I want to help The Brain Tumour Charity give hope to other families."

The family's nightmare started in February 2012, when Mike had a seizure at the wheel of his van on the motorway. He blacked out and veered off up an embankment.

A lorry driver behind him rushed to help and called 999.

Next thing Dad knew was waking up in hospital with a broken nose and no recollection of what had happened."

Doctors discharged him with suspected epilepsy, but Gabby's mum thought there was far more wrong with him.

Mum was worried as he'd started mumbling, slurring like he was drunk and getting his words mixed up.

He became confused, forgetful and had a constant ringing in his ears.

A week after his crash, Mum rang the GP and asked if he could be referred for a scan."

A CT scan revealed he had a huge mass in his front right temporal lobe. He had a five-and-a-half hour craniotomy in April 2012, which removed most of the tumour.

Over three weeks later, biopsy results revealed Mike had a grade four glioblastoma.

Being in limbo waiting for the results was hell.

When we got them, we were in shock – we just couldn't take it in at first.

“I still have the note I made on my mobile phone – glioblastoma multiforme – so I could Google it."

Four months after his diagnosis, a scan revealed the tumour had grown and he had further surgery to debulk it.

By then, Dad was getting increasingly confused.

“I remember we sat down for Christmas dinner and he picked up a lit candle from the table to drink from because he thought it was a glass."

When Mike's pain and symptoms could no longer be controlled at home, he went into a hospice and passed away in January 2013,

It was so hard to take in that someone who had been so full of life was gone.

“I was a daddy's girl and we never stopped talking or teasing each other.

“At home, our kitchen was party central. Mum would stay in the front room but Dad always came into the kitchen to take the mickey out of my friends.

“They thought he was hilarious but I was mortified because he was my dad!

“Now I'm even closer to Mum and Nathan, but there's always that sense that someone is missing.

“I know Dad would want me to live my life and would be proud I'm sharing my story in his memory to help save other families our heartache."

Sarah Lindsell, our chief executive, said: “We are so grateful to Gabby for her support and sharing her story to help us raise awareness.

“Like Gabby's dad, today 30 people will be given the devastating diagnosis of a primary brain tumour – that's 11,000 people a year.

“Our research strategy, A Cure Can't Wait, aims to double survival within 10 years and halve the harm brain tumours have on quality of life."

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