A former STV presenter who was diagnosed with a brain tumour is backing a charity’s Scottish manifesto to drive change ahead of the parliamentary elections.
Kirstin Gove, from Aberdeen, has given her support to the Brain Tumour Charity.
She has decided to share her story, after being diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumour last year, and has urged local MSP candidates to pledge support for those affected in Scotland.
She said: “As someone who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2020, I am adding my support to The Brain Tumour Charity’s Manifesto for Scotland and want to support the charity in calling for increased testing and care for brain tumour patients.”
More than 1,000 diagnosed every year
More than 1,000 people are diagnosed with a brain or CNS tumour in Scotland every year and of those who are diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, more than half do not survive one year.
Early diagnosis remains a unique challenge for brain tumours, with estimates suggesting that up to 64% of patients are diagnosed via an Emergency Department.
Recent Public Health Scotland estimates also suggest there may have been nearly a 25% drop in diagnoses from January to August 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, the ongoing pandemic has seen many patients face disruption to their care, including to clinics and appointments and treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy.
While the NHS took steps to keep cancer services running, The Brain Tumour Charity states that in most areas in Scotland, operations for those living with a low-grade brain tumour were delayed – however, the scale of these impacts is not yet known.
The Brain Tumour Charity’s manifesto is calling for the next Scottish Government to:
- Ensure everyone diagnosed can access support from a Clinical Nurse Specialist or key worker, regardless of their tumour type or location in Scotland
- Drive earlier diagnosis by:
a. committing to reducing the proportion of brain tumours diagnosed in A&E
b. piloting a promising new blood test – developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh – in primary care across Scotland as soon as possible, to explore its potential to triage those with possible symptoms
- Establish the extent of any emerging backlog of brain tumour surgeries and scans due to the pandemic, and set out a clear plan to ensure everyone affected by a brain tumour gets the diagnosis, treatment and support they need as soon as possible
- Accelerate access to real-world data for Scottish brain tumour patients, cancer researchers and charities, including through BRIAN, The Brain Tumour Charity’s patient-led app
Kirstin added: “The Brain Tumour Charity represent the thousands of brain tumour patients across the country and I am happy to lend my voice and support to their continued vital work and campaigns.”
‘Most terrifying experience anyone can go through’
The former STV presenter said her brain tumour was discovered during a CT scan in Aberdeen’s A&E department where she was admitted as an emergency case last October.
She said: “The tumour was later discovered to be non-cancerous (benign) and I underwent successful surgery to remove the mass several days after admission to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
“As anyone who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition will tell you, it’s quite simply the most terrifying experience anyone can go through.
“I consider myself extremely lucky in that I received a quick diagnosis followed swiftly by life-saving surgery and it deeply pains me to think of others less fortunate who may be forced to wait a long time for scans and treatment due to pandemic-related backlogs.”
‘Quality of life can be severely impaired’
Alice Russell, Scotland development manager at The Brian Tumour Charity, said that brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer in the UK.
He stated: “Of those that do survive, quality of life for many is severely impaired and late effects are heart-breaking for far too many families.
“This urgently needs to change. After speaking to our community in Scotland, we’ve developed this manifesto to lay out the action the next Scottish Government needs to take to help deliver long-awaited progress towards a world where brain tumours are defeated.
“For everyone affected by a brain tumour, we urgently need the next Government to act to improve access to nurse specialists and key workers, drive earlier diagnosis, address any backlog in brain tumour surgeries and scans, and accelerate access to real-world data.”
The Brain Tumour Charity is the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity, committed to fighting brain tumours on all fronts.
The organisation funds pioneering research to increase survival and improve treatment options, as well as raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours to bring about an earlier diagnosis.