Young Sudbury father's battle with three brain tumours inspires charity mission
PUBLISHED: 09:13 07 June 2018
HANNAH WALMSLEY OF WHITE FEATHER PHOTOGRAPHY
The family and friends of a young Suffolk father diagnosed with three brain tumours are embarking on a fundraising mission for much-needed research into the disease as they strive to turn tragedy into hope.
Father-of-two Matthew Pettigrew, from Sudbury, received the devastating diagnosis shortly before his 44th birthday.
Mr Pettigrew, now 45, was initially told the three grade 2 astrocytomas were inoperable, but sought private medical care and had the smallest tumour removed by bravely undergoing an awake craniotomy.
He is currently being monitored by doctors while they make a decision about future treatment.
The family have already raised more than £4,800 for The Brain Tumour Charity but they are not stopping there.
A quiz night will take place in aid of the cause at The Village Hall, Long Melford, on June 23.
And this month, family friend, Andrew McMurray, will also take on an epic 1,000-mile sponsored cycle from Nice to Vienna.
Mr Pettigrew, who is father to Asa, seven, and three-year-old Jude, and is supported by long-term partner, Kelly Boggis, said: “To be in a hospital at my age, with a young family, a job, bills to pay and then to be told, there’s nothing we can do for you, go home and you can talk to someone in a couple of weeks is incomprehensible.
“Briefly there is a thought about mortality but then the focus is practical, about family, mortgage and work.
“Then there is the disbelief that no treatment can be offered, not even any advice from the hospital that is treating me as they are not specialised in the area, nothing. You wonder why? Why me? Why no treatment? How is there still so little known about the brain and how to treat it?”
Mr Pettigrew was diagnosed with Ollier’s disease, an extremely rare bone disease, at birth, and research suggests there may be a link between this condition and the development of brain tumours.
His sister, Ruth Bescoby, said: “Matthew has taken everything in his stride and has been a tower of strength and positivity.
“He is an inspiration to us all.
“Matthew is determined to live life as best as he can and to be an active father to his young boys, Asa and Jude.”
She added: “Everyone we have spoken to has in some way been affected by the disease; having lost a loved one to or know someone who is fighting a brain tumour.
“If we can start conversations about brain tumours we can raise awareness and help with the fight.”
Brain tumours claim the lives of more than 5,000 people each year, but research into the disease has notoriously been underfunded.
Geraldine Pipping, director of fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity, said she was extremely grateful to Mr Pettigrew’s friends and family for their support.
She added: “We receive no government funding and rely entirely on voluntary donations and gifts in wills, so it’s only thanks to our supporters that we can fund ground-breaking research to find a cure for this devastating disease, and that we can progress towards our twin goals of doubling survival and halving the harm caused by brain tumours.”
To donate, visit the family’s Just Giving page, and people can follow Mr McMurray’s journey by searching The Grey Cyclist on Facebook and Instagram.