‘We need better treatment’ – wife of Rainham brain tumour victim

Claire (second right) and the team at Queen's Hospital

Claire (second right) and the team at Queen's Hospital - Credit: Archant

A widow whose husband died of a brain tumour wants improvements to be made in treatment of the killer condition, which she says hasn’t moved on in 20 years.

Lee Howell died in November aged 48 after an 18-month battle with cancer and now his wife Claire is campaigning to raise awareness.

She and fellow members of the Romford-based Brain Tumour Support Group are hoping to highlight the imbalance in funding so people can receive better care.

“The treatment my husband received hadn’t really moved on much from 20 or 30 years ago,” explained Claire, 39.

“They are almost apologetic when they prescribe chemotherapy. The government and NHS are focused on breast and other cancers, but brain tumours are the biggest killer for the under 40s.”

Claire and Lee’s story was featured in the Recorder last March, when she shaved her head as a show of support for her husband before surgery.

Lee was 47 and healthy when he was diagnosed in May 2013. He didn’t drink or smoke, but was told he had a Grade 4 tumour. After a third surgery in October he suffered a stroke and major swelling.

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He spent his final three weeks in Saint Francis Hospice, whose staff Claire said were “wonderful”.

“The 18 months were very difficult for him but he dealt with it,” she said. “He was so strong and matter of fact about it. He said ‘it is what it is and we can’t change it’.”

On Friday, the support group visited Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford, to raise £160 for The Brain Tumour Charity, before Claire went under the razor again.

Anyone affected by brain tumours can go along to the group, who meet on the first Wednesday of every month to chat and share advice.

Two oncology nurses from the hospital, Tricia Lowe and Kim Grove, are members, and Claire praised them and their colleagues for the care Lee received.

“Lee got fantastic treatment at the Sahara B ward,” she said. “But the treatment they are able to give isn’t adequate.”