A dad-of-two who was diagnosed with a brain tumour just weeks before lockdown began, is urging the public to sign a charity petition for greater investment to help more people survive the devastating disease.

Sam Suriakumar, 35, a self-employed recruitment consultant and part-time musician, has been told his tumour, a glioma, is growing ‘like a cobweb’, making surgery difficult without affecting other parts of his brain. He is waiting for a scan to find out more about his type of tumour and whether he is likely to be given chemotherapy treatment. This is currently scheduled for May.

Sam said: “When I first heard the words ‘brain tumour’ it felt like life had stopped and I was in a dark tunnel with no light. I couldn’t speak, hear or understand what was going on. To be honest, I am still trying to digest it and, as terrifying as things are, it will not defeat me.

“My diagnosis came out of the blue in February last year and, suddenly, my life changed. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t drive and my future was far from certain. It made me realise what was really important to me.

"When I was first told, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get time to spend with my wife and our two precious daughters. Now, during the coronavirus lockdown, I have all the time in the world and I feel this is a great gift and I am doing my utmost to make the best of it.”

Sam added: “As a Sri Lankan Tamil I’m keen to say that having a disease like this is not something which should be hidden as often happens in Asian culture.“

Shocked to discover that historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours, Sam and his family – wife Sindhu, and daughters, Avaana, five, and three-year-old Arya – began raising money for the charity Brain Tumour Research, raising £8,000 in a matter of weeks.

Now, Sam is supporting the charity again by asking people to sign its petition to increase the national investment into brain tumour research to £35 million a year. Sam and his family have worked with Brain Tumour Research to create a video calling for the public’s support, which is being widely shared on social media.

The charity says the extra money will bring parity of funding with other cancers such as leukaemia, breast and prostate. 

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Sam said: “I knew very little about brain tumours before my diagnosis but I’m keen to raise awareness, particularly of the underfunding of research to understand the disease and find a cure. I really hope as many people as possible support Brain Tumour Research’s petition; increasing the national spend on brain tumour research will make a big difference towards helping more people survive.”

Hugh Adams, spokesman for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Brain tumours still kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet despite promises of increased investment in research from the Government and larger cancer charities, we are still not seeing parity of funding with other cancers such as breast, prostate and leukaemia.

"This is not acceptable and we will continue to push for change until this injustice has been resolved.

“We are grateful to the many people who have already signed our petition and the families who continue to share their heart-breaking stories to help us raise awareness and to drive change.”

The charity is aiming to get 100,000 signatures by March which is national Brain Tumour Awareness Month. So far, more than 70,000 people have pledged their support.

You can sign the petition here