A YOUNG woman diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumour while studying at university is urging the public to sign a charity petition for greater investment to help find a cure for the devastating disease.

Pippa Simpson, who is from Wharfedale, was studying popular music at Goldsmiths College in London when she was diagnosed in December 2018 with a grade 3 anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma (APXA), an aggressive and hard-to-treat brain tumour.

Pippa was just 19 years old when she received her diagnosis and was forced to drop out of university and move home to Leeds. Now, 21, she recalls: “The discovery of my brain tumour was completely devastating. I experienced shock on another level. I guess I knew my life was going to be completely different to how I expected at 20. A week later I met my surgeon and before I knew it, I was under the knife at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) for five hours of neurosurgery to debulk the tumour.”

Pippa went on to endure six weeks of radiotherapy and numerous IVF injections to freeze her eggs due to the effects that treatment may have on her fertility. She completed the radiotherapy in April 2019, but by July was told her tumour had begun growing again. Pippa was given targeted chemotherapy, which she continues to take to this day, and has now been in remission for more than a year.

Determined not to let her condition get in her way, Pippa resumed her education and is in her final year studying music production at Leeds Conservatoire. Inspired by her cancer diagnosis, she now plans to work within the healthcare charity sector after graduation.

In July 2019, Pippa’s sister Anna and three of her university friends ran the Ilkley Half Marathon, raising more than £2,400 for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Now Pippa and her family are supporting the charity once again, this time calling on the public to sign Brain Tumour Research’s petition to increase the national investment into brain tumour research to £35 million a year. Pippa has worked with the charity to create a video appeal to encourage 100,000 people to pledge their support before March, which is Brain Tumour Awareness Month. The video is being shared across social media.

The charity says the increased investment will bring parity of funding with other cancers such as leukaemia, breast and prostate. Historically, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours.

Pippa said: “Since my diagnosis two people I know have also been diagnosed with brain tumours. This shocked me as I never realised how common brain tumours are in young people. I was shocked to learn that only one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to the disease, in spite of it being the biggest cancer killer in children and young adults. The only way we can beat this disease is through continuous and sustainable scientific research. I know only too well how important this is.

“I urge as many people as possible to sign Brain Tumour Research’s petition. Increasing the national spend on brain tumour research will make a big difference towards helping more people survive.”

According to Brain Tumour Research:

• More children and adults under the age of 40 die of a brain tumour than any other cancer

• Five-year survival rate for breast and prostate is over 70 per cent, leukaemia over 40 per cent, yet for brain tumours it is just 12 per cent

• Since national cancer spend records began in 2002, £680 million has been invested in breast cancer, yet only £96 million in brain tumours – a difference of £35 million a year over 17 years

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.”

Sign the petition at: https://www.braintumourresearch.org/campaigning/brain-tumour-research-petition