A Sutton-based dad-of-two who is living with a brain tumour has shared his story as part of a campaign called ‘Stop the Devastation’ launched today by charity Brain Tumour Research.
Sam Suriakumar, 36, a self-employed recruitment consultant and musician, was enjoying life as a fit and healthy father to two girls, Avaana aged six and Arya, four, when he was struck down with a seizure while travelling on the tube.
He was diagnosed with a currently inoperable glioma brain tumour in February 2020, can no longer work or drive, and said he and his wife Sindhu, a GP, now live their life “from scan-to-scan”.
Suriakumar said: “My diagnosis came out of the blue and made me realise that my family is more important to me than anything. The idea that I wouldn’t be here for Sindhu and the kids was unthinkable.
“Although no-one knows what lies ahead for me, I am choosing to be positive. It’s important to me that people hear my story and I hope that it will make a difference.
“Without more investment in research there will never be the improvements in treatment that we so badly need.”
Suriakumar hopes to raise awareness of brain tumours and their historic underfunding through Brain Tumour Research’s ad campaign which will be launched in Wimbledon.
Brain Tumour Research is a UK charity focused on finding a cure for brain tumours through campaigning to increase national investment into research to £35 million per year, to level the disparity between funding for brain tumour research and conditions such as leukaemia and breast cancer.
The charity found that historically only 1% of the national cancer research spending has been allocated to brain tumours.
Since cancer spend records began in 2002 around £98 million has been spent researching brain tumours in comparison to £680 million spent researching breast cancer, for example.
This disparity needs to be addressed as, according to their research, brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer, and less than 12% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour live longer than five years compared to the average of 50% across all cancers.
Suriakumar added: “I knew very little about brain tumours before my diagnosis but I’m keen to raise awareness, particularly of the underfunding for research to understand the disease and find a cure.
“We set up a JustGiving page for Brain Tumour Research and planned to do some fundraising and we were absolutely astonished that people rallied round and, incredibly, we raised nearly £8,000 in a matter of weeks.
“I can’t thank people enough for showering us with so much love, support and prayers. The difference that can be made by showing kindness, giving people your time and telling them you care is enormous.
“I don’t want to lecture or preach but I do hope I can inspire people to love the moment and make it count because tomorrow is always a gift and not a guarantee whilst today is yours to own and control.”
Fi Case, 49, from Kingston, whose close friend died of a brain tumour at the age of 44, has also spoken up for Brain Tumour Research’s video ad campaign.
Case said: “Like me, she had two young boys and our lives were intertwined as we went through so many shared experiences.
“Although there are lots of happy memories, it’s very painful to think what her life would have been like now and how much her family are missing out on having such a loving, fun and talented mother and wife and daughter here with them.
“This campaign represents a great opportunity for the general public to understand that, by getting involved and donating, they really can make a difference.”
Brain Tumour Research spokesperson Hugh Adams said: “Stop the Devastation lays bare the powerful and painful truth about brain tumours – they are indiscriminate, they can affect anyone at any age, there is no cure and for many, sadly, there is little or no hope.
“We are extremely grateful to Sam and Fi for opening up on camera to star in the campaign. By sharing their moving stories, they are helping us raise awareness and to drive change.
“Brain Tumour Research is determined to make progress by creating awareness of the horrifying statistics, by funding research at its Centres of Excellence and through its continued lobbying of the Government and the larger cancer charities to increase the national spend.”
Brain Tumour Research has worked with the London-based creative agency bandstand to produce the ‘Stop the Devastation’ campaign materials which include a 30-second film which will be screened at a series of outdoor festivals aimed at young people and families.
‘Stop the Devastation’ will be supported by a social media campaign titled #Nomore and people are encouraged to get involved by sharing the hashtag across social media with a selfie of their “stop hand”, donating £5 and tagging five friends.
To donate £5 text NOMORE to 70085.
For more information click here.
All photos credit to Brain Tumour Research