A dance teacher from Cheshire is raising money to help find a cure for brain tumours after her dad died from the disease.
Philip Lewis, 73, from Nottingham, who was the founder and chairman of West Bridgford Table Tennis Club and inspired many young people, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour in January 2021.
His children, Victoria Jarvis, 45, Nick Lewis, 43, and Alexandra Lewis, 38, first noticed that Philip became withdrawn and quiet at the start of January.
They thought it might be because he was worrying about his wife, Janet Lewis, 71, who was undergoing treatment for advanced breast cancer.
Alexandra, who lives in Widnes and runs the Alexandra Jane School of Dance in Newton-Le-Willows, said: “Dad’s whole personality changed. On 27 January, Mum was admitted to the City Hospital in Nottingham and, the next day, we noticed Dad was struggling to find the right words and was a bit confused when speaking, so we contacted his GP who thought he might have suffered a stroke.
“He was referred to the stroke clinic at Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham the next day. He had an MRI scan which revealed he actually had a frontal lobe brain tumour.
“I was in total shock and just couldn’t believe it. I kept thinking: ‘how could this happen?’”
Philip had surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible. He then began radiotherapy at City Hospital on 16 March – one day after his wife, Janet, died in the same hospital from advanced breast cancer.
After suffering three strokes, Philip moved into The Grand Care Centre residential home in West Bridgford, Nottingham. Philip died four weeks later in hospital, on 21 July 2021, with his son, Nick, by his side.
To remember her dad, Alexandra is marking Brain Tumour Awareness Month by taking part in Wear a Hat Day on 25 March in aid of the Brain Tumour Research charity. Children are invited to come to Alexandra’s dance school wearing a hat of their choice for a small donation. The money raised will help the charity fund research to find effective treatments.
Alexandra said: “I’m doing this to remember Dad and to raise awareness of this devastating disease.
“It was frightening how quickly he deteriorated. In the end, he wasn’t like my dad and he didn’t know who I was.”
Now in its 13th year, Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £2 million for Brain Tumour Research to help fund the fight against the disease. It is one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved brain tumour research awareness and fundraising days.
This year, the charity’s Wear A Hat Day pin badges have a regal theme in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and several of the charity’s celebrity ambassadors are fronting the campaign, including TV personalities Danny Clarke and Sarah Beeny, actor and long-time supporter Dame Sheila Hancock DBE, and brain tumour survivor Caprice Bourret. Danny lost his sister to a brain tumour; Sheila’s grandson was treated for the disease when he was just four years old; Sarah was in her 20s when she lost her mum to a brain tumour; Caprice had surgery for a brain tumour six years ago. They are encouraging everyone to take part and help fund the fight against this devastating disease.
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK singularly focused on finding a cure for brain tumours through campaigning for an increase in the national investment into research to £35 million per year. It is also fundraising to create a sustainable network of brain tumour research centres in the UK.
Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to Alexandra for taking part in Wear A Hat Day as it’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Philip who are forced to fight this awful disease.
“Unlike many other cancers, brain tumours are indiscriminate. They can affect anyone at any time. Too little is known about the causes and that is why increased investment in research is vital.”
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.
You can register to take part at www.wearahatday.org