Brooke Watson’s family lost their father and grandfather, Mervyn, to glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. She has bravely agreed to let us share her heartbreaking story with you.
“In early 2010, Dad woke up one day with a heavy feeling in one leg, like it was dragging as he walked. He went to the chiropractor assuming he’d put his back out, but after weeks of treatment and no improvement, Dad’s doctor sent him for some scans.
The result was a terrible shock to our family. There was a large mass on Dad’s brain which was found to be cancerous.
At Easter, to our devastation, Dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme – a very aggressive form of brain cancer. The news was even harder to bear when doctors told us that the location of the tumour made it inoperable.”
As the most common and aggressive form of primary brain cancer, most patients diagnosed with glioblastoma are tragically given no chance of long-term survival.
That’s because the tumour cells infiltrate, or “seed”, into the surrounding brain. Surgery is usually ineffective and most malignant glioblastomas are resistant to treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Mervyn and his family held out hope that he could overcome the terrible effects of his brain tumour.
But as Brooke sadly recounted, treatment for Mervyn was simply too little, too late.
“Before he was diagnosed, Mum and Dad had been planning a holiday to Canada and Alaska. Though they knew Dad was sick, they were determined to go on that holiday. They went and had the holiday of a lifetime.
Sadly, the trip was cut short when Dad suffered a large seizure and they had to fly home.
Within weeks, he had lost function in one side of his body and was confined to a wheelchair.
Doctors started him on chemotherapy. He seemed to cope with the treatment really well, with minimal side effects. After befriending many of the hospital staff and other patients, Dad was discharged from hospital to go home where Mum cared for him for the last days of his life.
His worst fear had been dying alone which thankfully did not happen. He passed away surrounded by his loved ones.
He was so loved by so many people. We miss him so much.”
Find out what QIMR is doing to fight brain cancer.