Skip to main content

Cancer Research Wales pledges £1 million to brain tumour research

Cancer Research Wales is bringing hope to people living with brain tumours, their families and loved ones today with the launch of a £1 million research programme

Cancer Research Wales is setting up the Brain Tumour Research Initiative to fund pioneering research into brain tumours in Wales. It will establish Wales as a world-leader in brain tumour research and provide scientists with a greater understanding of the disease.

The Brain Tumour Research Initiative
 will also develop new life saving and life-prolonging treatments and provide better support for people who have brain tumours.

Dr Lee Campbell, Head of Research at Cancer Research Wales - the only charity wholly dedicated to funding cancer research in Wales for Wales, said:

“There has been a reported 39% increase in the incidence of primary brain tumours in the UK since the 1990’s with over 400 of these occurring within Wales every year

“Unlike for many other cancer types, survival rates for brain tumour patients have barely improved over the last 30 years, with few new treatments introduced during this time and long-term survival rates for the most aggressive forms of brain tumour rarely exceed 10%”, he added.

Dr Lee Campbell concluded: “While childhood primary brain tumours have better outcomes, the nature of the current treatments mean these children often struggle to lead fully independent lives as adults. New and kinder treatment strategies are needed that not only further improve survival rates, but importantly reduce long-term side effects and cognitive impairment".

“The Brain Tumour Research Initiative will represent a first for Wales and will establish Wales as a world-leader for a disease that is notoriously difficult to treat. “

Gaining a better understanding of the disease

The programme which aims to invest up to £1 million every year for the study of brain tumours, will bring together scientists, clinicians, and neurosurgeons from across Wales, to work collaboratively to gain a better understanding of the disease.

It is hoped this will lead to the development of new and kinder therapies that not only increase survival rates but also provide better support and improve the quality of life for brain tumour patients everywhere.

Alex’s Story: Living with a Brain Tumour

Alex Aghili is a 50-year-old wife and mother from Abergavenny. In 2017, Alex had a seizure while she was asleep. Shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and sent to London for a craniotomy to remove it.

'My world fell apart'

“My world fell apart. I was so scared. I just thought ‘How will I cope?’; ‘How will I be a good mum and a wife?’; ‘Why me?’ I witnessed my parents crumble and cry and my husband try his hardest to be strong”, said Alex.

“I never really understood what the word ‘Family’ stood for until that day. My parents and my husband were amazing the way they held me up physically and emotionally. You need to hold onto the people who love you to keep you strong.”

Following the removal of the tumour in London, Alex was told the devastating news that she had brain cancer. She returned to Wales and her family helped get Alex through the weeks and months ahead.

'Broken crayons can still colour'

“I needed to be in Wales where I would be home and would feel stronger to deal with it. It’s been an exhausting journey where there’ve been days when I’ve felt broken, but I have a saying that keeps me going – ‘Broken crayons can still colour’.

“If it wasn’t for my family, my friends and the wonderful guardian angels I have crossed paths with on this journey I’m not sure I would have got through it”, reflected Alex.


Seven years on, Alex is still having regular health checks and MRI scans but is living life with renewed vigour, grateful for the research that made her treatments possible. She’s giving hope to others who are in the early stages of their diagnosis and Alex knows all too well the difference hope makes.

“I wish I’d had someone like me in those early days to give me hope. I feel very lucky to be where I am now. I’m still here and living the best life I can – I love and value time with my family – my husband Leo, son Taylan and my mum Kay.”

“I am indebted to the research that enabled my treatment and to the amazing team who’ve looked after me.”

Looking to the Future with real hope

“The experience of cancer has undoubtedly changed me. There are some things I’ve had to accept I can no longer do, such as riding my horse. The cancer has stolen away my confidence in the saddle. After I fell from my horse, I realised, that in the battle in regards to my passion for horses, cancer won, hence me hanging my hat up” said Alex.

“The financial impact of cancer has also meant I had to use all my savings so I could live and pay rent, but I can look forward to the future with real hope, enjoy time with my family and open my heart and my life to new experiences I thought might never be possible.”