Help for brain tumour patients from Sheffield charity

Brainstrust team members Frances Milburn and Pete Burchill pictured in Weston Park.
Brainstrust team members Frances Milburn and Pete Burchill pictured in Weston Park.

They know more than anyone the devastation of being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Survivor Frances Milburn, aged 24, discovered she had a cancerous anaplastic astrocytoma after being rushed into hospital on a college trip to New York.

And dad Pete Burchill has spent years at the side of his little daughter Sophie through three life-saving operations and other gruelling treatment for her rare, aggressive growth.

Now their experiences are set to help hundreds of other brain tumour patients as the duo deliver the first regional support service from charity Brainstrust in Sheffield.

The city was chosen because the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Broomhill is one of the best in the UK for brain tumour treatment, but has the challenge of covering a wide area that stretches as far as Cleethorpes.

New community fundraiser Frances, who lives in Bolsterstone, said: “What happened to me is all a bit of a blur, but it was such a shock.

“It is wonderful to be helping others go through what I have, I understand first hand and can relate to problems like short-term memory loss and fatigue.

“It was a really isolating time - before I found Brainstrust there was nothing, and I felt so alone.

“I’m healthy now but it was still great to talk to somebody.”

Sheffield charity Sophie’s Wish was set up by Pete Burchill and wife Abigail, of Hillsborough, as Sophie battled her tumour.

The four-year-old’s latest MRI scan at Sheffield Children’s Hospital was clear following pioneering proton beam therapy in the USA.

Pete, who has been employed as a support specialist for Brainstrust, will now aim to meet patients within days of diagnosis to offer pragmatic support and advice from the start.

He said: “I am looking forward to using what I have learned on my own journey to help other people affected by this disease.

“The challenges in Sheffield and South Yorkshire are unique, because of the diversity and geography of the area.

“But Brainstrust has a fantastic service, and I look forward to making it more accessible and even more relevant to the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire.”

Another Sheffield brain tumour patient, Nick Wolstenhome, has part funded the two new posts with the May Hearnshaw Trust.

Patients needing support can contact Pete by email at pete@brainstrust.org.uk or by calling 01983 292 405.