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Woman whose partner needs 24/7 care for brain tumour shares story as she plans for Wear A Hat Day

A woman whose partner is living with the devastating and life-changing effects of a brain tumour is sharing their story in Brain Tumour Awareness Month as well as her plans for Wear A Hat Day.

Julie Morris & Malcolm Watson in a hat. Photo: Brain Tumour Research
Julie Morris & Malcolm Watson in a hat. Photo: Brain Tumour Research

Julie Morris’s partner Malcolm Watson needs 24/7 care as his mobility, cognition and ability to communicate have been severely impacted by his brain tumour.  Additionally, Malcolm can no longer swallow and has to be fed via a tube into his stomach.

Julie, 56, from Whittington, near Oswestry, met Malcolm 26 years ago in a pub. She is working with the charity Brain Tumour Research and, along with Malcolm and the carers who help look after him, will be joining in the fun of Wear A Hat Day on Friday 26 March.

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Employed by farming business, Spunhill Ltd in Ellesmere, Julie said: “Malcolm and I used to love walking, eating out and going to the pub, as well as having holidays abroad. He worked for Scottish Power for 38 years and was an avid fly-fisher.

“But, in 2015, Malcolm was finally diagnosed, aged 61, with a low-grade meningioma brain tumour, having experienced muscle aches in his arms and legs for about 10 years, which were put down to age-related arthritis, and, more recently, severe headaches. He underwent surgery at Royal Stoke University Hospital, only for the tumour to reoccur three years later. Malcolm was very poorly after his second craniotomy in June 2018 when surgeons were unable to remove all of the tumour because it’s wrapped around his brain stem. He couldn’t have radiotherapy either, because doctors weren’t sure he was clinically fit enough and I felt that our time together was more precious than risking his health further.”

Following discharge and a spell in a hospice because doctors thought he wasn’t going to survive, Malcolm spent time in a care home. Julie would spend six or seven hours a day with Malcolm, but all that stopped when the coronavirus pandemic meant his care home closed its doors to visitors.

Julie added: “It was very difficult for Malcolm and me being apart, especially with Malcolm’s limited ability to communicate which meant talking on the phone was nigh on impossible, so in September last year I brought Malcolm home, having organised carers.

“It’s really good to have something so positive to look forward to with Wear A Hat Day. We are excited about donning our best hats, sharing photos and asking friends to donate to this vital cause to help find a cure for this terrible disease.”

This year’s Wear A Hat Day is paying tribute to key worker families who have played a pivotal role throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Brain Tumour Research is inviting people to join in the fun of Wear A Hat Day by donning their best headwear from beanies to cowboy hats, flat caps to Panamas, baseball caps to berets.

Now in its 12th year, Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £2 million to help fund the fight against the disease. It is one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved brain tumour research awareness and fundraising days.

Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “The pandemic hit Wear A Hat Day hard last year and meant we brought in £250,000 less than we had hoped. Despite the challenges of the first lockdown, we were amazed by our dedicated supporters who still came up with inventive ways to take part.

“It’s so touching to see people are once again embracing Wear A Hat Day, one year on from the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK. Our supporters’ dedication in these unprecedented times is genuine and inspiring and we can’t wait to join them in putting on our hats, having some fun and raising money to fund sustainable research that will bring us closer to a cure for brain tumours.

“Just 12% of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years whereas, for cancers such as breast and leukaemia, the figures are 70% and 40% respectively because of greater investment for research in those areas.

“Please join us this Wear A Hat Day – let’s have fun and make a difference.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

Whilst COVID-19 restrictions still apply, the charity is politely reminding supporters to observe safety measures when planning their events. Families, friends, workplaces and schools can however, still come together safely, virtually or in-person where restrictions allow, to raise money for this vital cause.

You can register to take part at www.wearahatday.org.

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