Council leader vows to continue daughter’s fight for brain tumour cure

Council leader Tim Oliver has vowed to continue his daughter’s fight for a cure for brain tumours so other families are spared “this dreadful disease”.

Mr Oliver, the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council, will be cycling in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on August 4 to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

His daughter Emily was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour in January 2018 and was told she probably had just three months to live. She is now receiving end-of-life care at the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher.

Emily, who was studying nursing at Nottingham University when she became ill, used her 21st birthday in October as a way to collect money to fund research and has already raised more than £30,000.

Emily Oliver
Emily Oliver

“She was overwhelmed by the support that she got. She was very proud of that,” Mr Oliver told PA.

“Emily has been unbelievable just in the way she has coped with this illness. Never has she said ‘why me?’

“Nobody is to blame. It’s just a horrible quirk of nature.

“She has gone through some horrendous treatments. But she has fought all the way through and we will continue to fight for her.

“The reality is there is no cure for these types of tumours.

“Our hope is one day, this dreadful disease, we will find a cure for it.

“It won’t help us but hopefully it will help other parents.”

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 – 5,000 deaths each year – and just 14% of adults survive for five years after diagnosis, the charity says.

It adds that brain tumour research accounts for less than 2% of more than £500 million spent on cancer research in the UK every year.

Glioblastomas are the most common cancerous brain tumour in adults and are fast growing and likely to spread.

It is not known why they start to grow but the charity is funding research into possible causes, focused around genes.

Emily underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy, then followed the same treatment route as Tessa Jowell.

Baroness Jowell, a Labour MP, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in May 2017 and campaigned for better funding and treatments until her death a year later.

Emily saw a consultant in Los Angeles and was referred to a teaching hospital in Germany where DNA was taken from the tumour to create a vaccine.

Another trial drug was tried in an effort to slow down the growth of the tumour but Emily started to deteriorate in April this year.

“There is no further treatment,” her father told PA.

“We are just waiting for the tumour to do what it’s going to do.

“We have done absolutely everything that could be done.

“We have left no stone unturned.”

Mr Oliver, who took over as council leader in December 2018, has told Emily that he is riding for her campaign this year but added: “In terms of her understanding she perhaps doesn’t know.

Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver
Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver

“She’s not really aware of her surroundings.”

But he added: “It’s absolutely what she would want.”

She had chosen to study nursing because “she wanted to help people and was really motivated”, he said.

Emily’s brother James, 25, will also be riding although Mr Oliver added: “He’s a rather better cyclist than me so he’ll be at least an hour ahead of me.”

Mr Oliver’s wife Debi, a retired GP, and his daughter Charlotte, 26, will be supporting them as they complete the 100 mile challenge.

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