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Spotlight on Supporter Group, Firth’s Fundraisers

Paul set up Supporter Group Firth’s Fundraisers, and with family and friends, has raised over £20,000 since his diagnosis in March last year

Firth’s Fundraisers: Paul’s Story

Out of nowhere, I had this determination not to let this overwhelm me. I think it was just my body’s way of telling me it was ready to fight.”   

Paul Firth, from York, collapsed while working from home in January last year and, following weeks of investigations, heard the shocking news that he had a brain tumour. 

His GP organised blood tests and booked him in to the local hospital in York for MRI and CT scans and then he was referred to the nearest specialist neurology hospital – Hull Royal Infirmary. 

Those tests, in April 2023, confirmed that Paul, who works for the John Lewis Partnership, had a grade 2 Oligodendroglioma brain tumour. 

Surgery and “the pink drink”

In May 2023, Paul had awake surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible. The operation took nearly five hours. 

Paul, 40, said: “You can’t really explain how or why but when someone tells you something that serious all of a sudden I found this resilience that I never knew existed.

“Out of nowhere, I had this determination not to let this overwhelm me. I think it was just my body’s way of telling me it was ready to fight.” 

Paul was given 5-ALA, also known as ‘the pink drink’, the night before his operation, along with an explanation of how the drug would work. 

He recalls: “They explained that the drug/drink would glow a bright pink colour under a certain light during surgery which would allow the surgeons to have better visibility of the healthy cells versus the cells where the tumour was.  

“I seem to remember the surgeon saying in jest during consultation that it would be the most expensive drink I would probably ever have so I kind of had an idea that this wasn’t just standard procedure for surgeries. 

Paul lies on a cushion with a bandage around his head. After surgery for a brain tumour, Paul set up a supporter group called Firth's Fundraisers

It certainly wasn’t anything horrific in taste and this is coming from someone who didn’t like taking any sort of medicine as a child. The only other thing they said was I needed to close the curtains because my skin could be at risk of burning with sunlight as the drug affected something to do with that. So for up to a day after the surgery I had to stay in a dark room with the curtains closed.” 

Due to its position in the right frontal lobe, surgeons were not able to remove much of the tumour without risking permanent paralysis and after the operation, Paul was prescribed 12 months of chemo and radiotherapy treatment.   

Supporter Group Firth’s Fundraisers – raising money for high grade research

Throughout the last few months of treatment, the one thing that kept up Paul’s resilience is the motto “you can only control what is controllable”- and the thought of raising money to support crucial research projects to benefit others living with brain tumours, to one day find a cure for this cruel disease. And so Supporter Group, Firth’s Fundraisers, was born!

So far, Paul and his friends and family have raised a huge amount of money through sponsored events like the Great North Run, as well as quizzes, raffles and – most recently – a charity coast to coast cycle ride. 

Pedalling for a Cure

Cyclists cycle for Firth's Fundraisers, raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity

The bike ride – a gruelling 166 miles from Blackpool to Scarborough– took place from May 25-27 and, despite being mid way through chemo cycles, Paul was delighted to be there at both the start and finish. In fact, he managed four hours of cycling across the three days with the aid of an electric bike which helped get up some of those north Yorkshire hills!

The organiser of the ride was Paul’s best friend Simon Hogg who, by cruel coincidence, was also diagnosed with a brain tumour – a medulloblastoma – when he was a teenager.

Simon, now 40, endured a 10 hour operation and a six week course of radiotherapy and has happily made a full recovery. A keen cyclist, he was delighted to support Paul by leading the fundraising cycle ride.

And Paul isn’t stopping there. A Footy Speed Quiz is next on the agenda!

Paul said: “I am so thankful to all my friends, family and work colleagues, as well as The Brain Tumour Charity, from whom I was able to access counselling sessions free of charge, and which I have found so helpful in giving me the time and space to let my feelings out in a safe space. 

“Following my diagnosis I have done plenty of research into brain tumours and was shocked at the lack of funding that this particular cancer treatment receives. Progress in research into brain tumours has been slow. Since 1971 there has been an overall increase in survival of less than 10% for people with a high grade brain tumour, one of the poorest improvements across all cancers. This highlights the need for investment in this field of research.

“We plan to continue to raise money and awareness to support the charity because we have seen already how important the donations are to continue the goal of finding a cure for this disease that has turned ours and thousands more families’ lives upside down.” 

Get Involved

Our Supporter Groups are usually set up in memory of a loved one, inspired by someone living with a brain tumour or, as with Firth’s Fundraisers, set up by a person living with a brain tumour. They work tirelessly holding events, fundraising and raising awareness. Find out more about our amazing groups here: