Diagnosed in 2016 with glioblastoma
Five years ago Phil discovered he had a brain tumour and was given a likely 15 months to live. This year he is able to celebrate another Christmas with his family.
In November of 2016 Phil was away from home staying in Eastbourne and visiting friends for an evening meal when, out of the blue, he had a massive seizure.
It so happened that I was with my friend Mike, who had been a paramedic, and he knew exactly what to do.
I awoke in an ambulance with paramedics trying to restore my vital signs.
I know that I was in and out of consciousness and that they were working on me in the hospital. Mike stayed with me all night and his wife phoned my wife Carole and daughter Becci, who then faced driving through the night to reach me, at this point unsure of the severity of the situation.
I think that night Mike probably saved my life acting so quickly and with his knowledge.
Following a CT scan I was given an MRI scan and stayed in a ward for four days. During that time the oncologist came to see me with the initial MRI result. “It’s not very good news I’m afraid” she said.
“It looks like you have a grade 4 tumour.” She said, rather matter of fact, that it was likely that I would live for 15 months.
Facing the diagnosis
The diagnosis was a glioblastoma. However Phil recalls that he felt surprisingly calm in the face of such shocking news. Possibly, he acknowledges, due to his lack of full understanding, but also thanks to his deep personal faith which took away a great deal of fear.
A year of treatment
Phil faced a year of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, dealing with the side effects of the treatment and steroids. Life changed for his loved ones too. Suffering fatigue and also losing his driving license due to the diagnosis he suddenly became dependent on his family and friends for many things. But he held onto his faith and positivity, and firmly believes that this lack of fear has been significant in defying the prognosis he was given.
The right time for support
Although he didn't seek support straight away, talking to others going through similar experiences has also helped Phil over the past three years, joining his local Brain Tumour Support Group in Shrewsbury prior to the Covid pandemic and then the online sessions which have taken over since.
"It took most of the year going through the treatment before I began coming to the local meetings," says Phil. "I think for me there was some time before I felt comfortable to talk with others, uncertain of what to expect, but of course was really encouraged once joining!"
Phil's song to support others
It was at one of the more recent virtual support meetings that Phil's love of music and many years of composing songs was revealed. As a result he decided to write a song for Brain Tumour Support and for others going through their own challenges after a brain tumour diagnosis. It is inspired by the charity's strapline Together We Are Stronger.
Phil recorded his song 'Stronger Together' and is including it as a bonus track on a CD of his music, inspired by his faith and composed over the past 27 years. He plans to donate all profits from sales of the CD to benefit the work of Brain Tumour Support.
Phil had no indication that anything was wrong prior to his seizure
Phil with his wife Carole and daughter Becci
Treatment included steroids which commonly cause weight gain
Read more about how we help
Brain Tumour Support offers support to brain tumour patients and their families in a variety of ways - support groups, one-to-one, counselling, telephone and on-line support.
For more information call our Support Line on 01454 422701 or email firstname.lastname@example.org