A Swansea University student, who was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare following the death of his father and grandad to brain tumours, is starring in a campaign to help find a cure for the disease.
Christopher Grey, 19, is taking centre stage and sharing his story during Brain Tumour Awareness Month in March. Christopher – who studies Applied Medical Sciences - was just 11 years old when his dad Jeffrey Grey was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Despite enduring chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Jeffrey died just eight months later, aged 54.
Tragically, Christopher’s granddad, Wyndham Grey, also died of a brain tumour ten years ago.
Christopher, from Swansea, said: “It’s hard for me to remember my dad’s diagnosis because it was so traumatic and I was so young. It all started when his speech became slurred and the doctors suspected he had suffered a small stroke. Sadly, an MRI scan at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, revealed the dreadful news that he was living with an aggressive brain tumour.
“It’s still upsetting to think back to when Mum told me about Dad’s brain tumour. My heart was completely broken. The tumour was too deep to be operated on and I often stayed off school to be at home with Dad. I knew he was dying and I helped to look after him with my mum.”
Alongside his mum Catherine and grandmother Christine, Christopher is among families across the UK whose images are being seen across the country as a high-profile marketing campaign is launched for Brain Tumour Awareness Month. The month culminates in Wear A Hat Day on Friday 27 March. Now in its eleventh year, Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £1.25 million to help fund the fight against the disease.
Christopher has been a tireless fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research over the years and has raised more than £5,000 by hosting events such as a fancy dress evening and a sponsored climb of Pen y Fan. He has also campaigned to raise awareness and inspired Swansea University to take part in last year’s Wear A Hat Day.
He added: “Taking part in this campaign is incredibly important to me, as someone who lost two close relatives to brain tumours. Raising awareness and funding is vital in our quest to help find a cure for this terrible disease. I want to turn my negative experience into something positive.
“I was inspired to study applied medical sciences at university because of my experience with brain tumours. I’m really interested in learning about cancer and the mechanisms behind the disease and, as I particularly enjoy being in the lab, I’m considering a career in medical research.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.