As we get older, if you are like me, we hang on to the belief that we are still with it when it comes to the latest trends, fashion and music. Unfortunately I was found out when I was invited to meet Tom Parker, a singer of the band The Wanted which has sold more than 10m records worldwide.
The connection and reason for the meeting was because he is diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer which will take his life unless something miraculous happens very soon. I met a young open honest man who has decided that the best use of his life is to use every day to raise awareness of brain cancer and galvanise action across British politics, the NHS and the field of research so that those with brain tumours can access better treatment, support and even a cure. I spent over an hour with Tom. He is clearly ill, struggled to walk and stumbled over his words. He also shared jokes, is brutally honest about his journey with cancer, is inspirational in his commitment to this cause and was candid about his prospects. We discussed the research that is underway to try and get effective drugs directly to the tumour.
Delivering drugs directly to a cancer in the brain is very difficult because the brain is protected by a blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is fantastic for protecting the brain from disease but very challenging if the disease is in the brain. Tom is particularly vocal about the brutal side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy asking why, in decades, we have not yet discovered a more targeted treatment of brain cancers. This question which deserves an answer. Tom was also exercised about the need for better advice, more joined up cancer services and improved support for immediate family members. He is 32 and he and his wife have 2 young children. I was humbled when he talked about the privilege of being comfortably off and having access to essential support and help. Something that is not readily available to others.
The same day I met with the Prime Minister to discuss the recent report produced by Brain Tumour Research which sets out the fact that research for treatment and cures for brain tumours is lagging behind other cancers. Brain cancer is still the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 years old. I didn’t know of Tom Parker as a singer in a successful boy band but I know him as an effective campaigner for better brain cancer care and most people in the UK will know him as this as the year unfolds.
The Government has provided £1.6m to Cornwall to provide holiday Club provision during the summer holidays. The offer for children and young people includes physical activities, healthy meals and social interaction. These activities also ran over Easter and will be provided at Christmas. The activities are free for children who receive free-school meals and are open to every child between the age of 5 - 16. You can find out what is available close to you at www.activecornwall.org/T2MHolidayCamps .