Mother joins brain cancer awareness campaign

Image caption,
Symptoms of a brain tumour are frequently mistaken for less serious illnesses

The mother of a 16-year-old from Dorset who has only weeks to live has joined a campaign to make parents aware of the symptoms of brain cancer.

David Langton-Gilks from Fontmell Magna was diagnosed with a brain tumour five years ago.

Because the symptoms are often confused with non-life threatening conditions, diagnosis can often come too late.

It took six weeks to pick up David's tumour once he had started to show signs of an illness.

He said: "Before I was diagnosed I was feeling really weird, sicky and getting really bad headaches, I just thought I was coming down with something."

The eldest of three children, David has endured several invasive operations to remove the tumour plus radio and chemotherapy, but the aggressive cancer has spread from his brain to his spine.

"I've relapsed several times - but now I'm kind of stuffed. But hey you can't win them all," he said.

Spotting the signs

Symptoms of a brain tumour which include vomiting, headaches, changes in mood and behaviour, and abnormal eye movements are frequently mistaken for less serious illnesses.

Image caption,
Toby and Sacha Langton-Gilks hope to make more families aware of the condition

His mother Sacha Langton-Gilks said: "I didn't link the headache week one, with one vomit week two with another headache in week three, with a vomit in week four.

"I didn't know to ask about his eyes. I had thought he was being a bit placid, but I didn't know that it is the classic behavioural change."

Mrs Langton-Gilks has been delivering pocket-sized HeadSmart symptom cards throughout primary schools in North Dorset, hoping to make more families aware of the condition.

She said: "It's so important. Parents know how to pick up signs of meningitis, we need them to pick up the signs of a brain tumour."

In the UK 500 children are diagnosed with brain tumours each year - around the same number as meningitis cases.

Across the UK, more children and people under the age of 40 die of a brain tumour than any other cancer.

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