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Drag queen calls for increased investment into brain tumour research

Graham Robson April 15, 2021

Drag queen Edward Ruggiero has joined more than 112,000 people affected by brain tumours to sign a petition created by the charity Brain Tumour Research calling for the government to increase investment in scientific research to bring parity of funding with other cancers such as breast and leukaemia.

Edward Ruggiero, 33, was living in Brighton and forging a career as a drag queen when he was diagnosed with a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma in 2017 at the age of 29. He was given a prognosis of three to five years and now feels he is living on borrowed time. A life-threatening infection following an awake craniotomy meant further surgery to remove part of his skull, leaving his head misshapen. Edward also has permanent hair loss as a result of treatment. He chose not to continue with a punishing chemotherapy regime and created a stunning photographic self-portrait capturing his appearance post-surgery.

Edward says: “It seems so brutal that, in a world in which we have achieved so many things, the only treatment for brain cancer is to cut it out by surgery, burn it with radiation and poison it with chemotherapy.

“With such a limited life expectancy, why would I waste any of that precious time putting myself through more horrific treatment for the sake of a few more months? Some days it’s as much as I can do to get out of bed and that seems pitiful for a 33-year-old man at what should be the prime of my life. My brain tumour has robbed me of my career, my prospects and, ultimately, it will rob me of my life.”

Edward’s story features in a report being circulated to MPs today, highlighting the fact that brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. Historically, just 1% of the national cancer spend has been allocated to this devastating disease.

In its, Petition Report, Level Up and Stop the Devastation, the charity is calling on the Government to:

• Introduce a new brain tumour research levelling up fund of £105 million
• Increase the national investment into brain tumour research to £35 million a year
• Demonstrate joined up thinking for investment across the brain tumour research pipeline

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already confirmed he will receive the report from Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions  last month the PM said he looked forward to meeting with Mr Thomas, who is Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours once it was “safe to do so”.  The PM told the House of Commons that the Government had already promised an investment of £40 million but campaigners point out that, three years into the five-year period over which the funds had been promised, just £9 million has been allocated.

Speaking as the report was launched today, Mr Thomas said: “I am proud to continue to champion the cause for an increase in investment into brain tumour research. I never fail to be moved by the stories of families who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease and to patients themselves who show such bravery and commitment to finding improved outcomes for others and, ultimately, a cure. It is a great honour to be working with the charity Brain Tumour Research and I am looking forward to presenting this Petition Report, calling on the Government to match brain tumour research funding with other devastating cancers, to the Prime Minister.

“We know through Covid that properly funded research really can bring improvements in care, treatment and a cure. More than 100,000 people have signed this petition and are demanding action. It’s time for a cure.”

For more info and to sign the petition, CLICK HERE.

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