A former GP in Rotherham for 20 years who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour travelled to Westminster to voice his outrage after figures revealed a drop in research spending to combat the deadly disease.
The newly-released figures from the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) show the total national spend on cancer research allocated to research into brain tumours decreased to just 1.37 per cent in 2015.
Vetri Velamail, aged 55, was among patients, carers, activists, charities and politicians who attended the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on brain tumours which took place on Wednesday 13th July.
Otherwise fit and healthy, Vetri, of Wickersley, Rotherham, where he was a GP for over 20 years, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour in December 2009 and given a prognosis of just one year. Thankfully, he is one of the lucky ones to survive more than five years.
Vetri said: “Six and a half years ago I believed it when I was told I had just a year to live, but amazingly I seem to be one of the four or five people out of 100 that is still alive with brain cancer five years on. I feel very lucky to still have the opportunity to see my children starting out on their adult lives and I am particularly looking forward to being at my eldest son’s wedding near Harrogate in October – Matt, 25, works for Rotherham rehabilitation company, RehabWorks.
“I am also very proud that Thomas, 21, has recently graduated with a 2.1 in Finance, Accounting and Management from Nottingham University and that Katie, our youngest who will be 20 in August, has followed my lead and is studying medicine.
“It is vital that more money is spent on research into what causes brain tumours, how they can be treated and, ultimately, a cure. It is outrageous to think that the amount of money spent on research has gone down.”
Earlier this year the influential House of Commons Petitions Committee found that “successive governments had failed brain tumour patients and their families for decades” and, in a Westminster Hall debate prompted by an online petition which attracted more than 120,000 signatures, Health Minister George Freeman MP accepted the report findings and announced a number of measures to discuss how to address the need for more brain tumour research.
Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of the charity Brain Tumour Research, who has provided the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group since 2005, said: “It was an incredible milestone for the brain tumour community to shine a light on this issue with the unprecedented success of the original e-petition, the Petitions Committee report and subsequent Parliamentary debate. But we can’t stop there. We look forward to playing a key role in the Government’s Task and Finish working group to drive the Petitions Committee’s recommendations forward.
“We are calling for the national investment in brain tumour research to be increased to £30-£35 million per annum. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.”