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Pressure for government response to funding research into brain tumours gathers momentum

Several high profile stories and a grandmother’s petition reaches this week’s PMQs and brain tumours are scheduled for a parliamentary debate

On Wednesday, Kirsten Oswald, MP for East Renfrewshire, raised Daniel Caplan’s story in Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons.

Daniel was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an aggressive brain tumour with a poor prognosis, in May this year. The family is urging people to back a petition that calls for more UK government funding for research into childhood brain tumours. The petition was set up by Fiona Govan, whose three-year old grandson Logan died from a DIPG in 2017.

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar raised Daniel’s case during a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on cancer, of which he is co-chair, to ask Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, and Jason Leitch, Scotland’s National Clinical Director, what they can do to “get something positive from this very tragic news.”

In response, Ms Freeman said: “I’m very happy to look at that and find the right person with the right level of knowledge and authority to have a proper discussion with the family.”

Subsequently, Kirsten Oswald MP took the concerns of Daniel’s family and the demands of our community to PMQs. Addressing the Prime Minister, Kirsten called for a renewed focus on research and awareness of childhood brainstem tumours.

Boris Johnson responded: “I’ll do what I can to ensure she [Kirsten Oswald] is able to make representations to department of health to ensure childhood brain stem cancers are properly understood and properly tackled in this country.”

At the same PMQs, Sarah Atherton, MP for Wrexham, raised the story of Unbeatable Eva, who was also diagnosed with a DIPG in January this year. Eva’s family are raising funds to allow her to travel abroad for treatment and Boris said he was committed to supporting costs.

These PMQs highlighted the heart-breaking experiences of so many in our community and reinforced the urgent need to get brain tumour funding at the forefront of government policy. We do not have time to spare in saving our children’s lives affected by this devastating disease.

Fiona’s petition, which we supported alongside our community, passed the 100,000 signature mark on 2 July and she received the news this week that the Petitions Committee has agreed to a debate in Westminster Hall once sittings, disrupted by COVID-19, resume.

In launching the petition, Fiona said: “When childhood cancer entered our family’s life, we became aware of the lack of progress not just for DIPG but also for some other childhood cancers, especially on relapse and the woeful lack of funding for childhood cancer research.

“My grandson, just like your child or grandchild, deserved to grow up. He was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumour in relation to which no meaningful progress has been made towards a cure in decades.”

We will support all the work being undertaken by our community and other charities to ensure that these are not just hollow words from the PM and his government. Brain tumours must be moved to the forefront of research funding across the UK.