Sacred Heart & St Oswald’s parishioner Sam Bravo-Hibberd, aged 34, was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma (GBM) in September, two months after welcoming his only daughter, Alejandria, into the world.
The father-of-three had been experiencing personality changes for at least a year and had suffered from headaches, taste auras and confusion for about two weeks prior. He was given just eight to 12 weeks to live and was referred to palliative care.
However, after seeking a second opinion privately, he underwent an open biopsy during which around 30% of his tumour was debulked. He is now waiting to start radiotherapy whilst his family are crowdfunding in the hope of sourcing alternative treatments not yet available on the NHS.
Sam’s wife Mauricee said: “In July, I gave birth to Alejandria. I had a long recovery due to a few complications which meant numerous trips to the hospital but Sam was there to support me throughout and did most of the driving without any issues. We were just enjoying the baby snuggles when, two weeks after giving birth, Sam’s physical symptoms started. At first he got headaches lasting just a few minutes, but then these were accompanied by a metallic taste, which we now know to be seizures.”
“On August 20 I found Sam on the floor with Alejandria. He said he’d had to sit down after changing her nappy because he felt faint and had a headache. Again, he refused to go to A&E but I’d had enough, so the next day I took him to the GP.
Soon after, son Theo had a swollen jaw and ended up in A&E and Mauricee also booked Sam in and he was given an MRI scan.
“The truth was much worse than I’d ever expected,” said Mauricee. “We were eventually told that Sam had a very large brain tumour.
“On September 22 we went for our first appointment with Sam’s neurosurgeon only to be told there was nothing that could be done. I had prepared myself for a really long journey of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy but the neurosurgeon told us Sam’s tumour, a glioblastoma (GBM), was inoperable and it was unlikely an oncologist would take his case on because of how aggressive his cancer was and how poor his baseline function was. This ruled out radiotherapy and chemo.
“I wasn’t prepared to be told my husband, my best friend and the father of my children, had just eight to 12 weeks to live and was being referred for palliative care.”
The couple went for a second opinion at a private hospital in London and were told about some alternative treatments. Mauricee has now launched a fundraising campaign and is hoping to raise £100,000 to fund immunotherapy treatments offered by CeGat, a genetic research clinic in Germany.
Mauricee said: “I didn’t want to go down the route of asking other people for money but, after she suggested it, my sister persuaded me to swallow my pride for the sake of my children. People have already been very generous and we are very grateful, but we are still a long way off where we need to be in order to pursue treatments privately without compromising our children’s future and financial stability.
I’m currently selling our car and a few more significant possessions and investments to raise money for Sam’s treatments, but anyone wishing to help us can donate at https://gofund.me/f85273b5.
Sacred Heart parish priest, Fr Arockiya Seelan Poobalan, said: “The couple are very loving parishioners. They are regulars to the church and support the parish of Sacred Heart and St Oswald. Please keep this family in your prayers and support the Gofundme page if you can.”
The Brain Tumour Trust says: “Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer… yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002. Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.”
If you have been touched by Sam’s story you may like to make a donation via www.braintumourresearch.org/donate
Pictured are Sam Bravo-Hibberd with daughter Alejandria and, below with wife Mauricee and their other two children at Sacred Heart and St Oswald church in Peterborough. Pictures courtesy of the family.