CLEVELEYS dad David Kershaw knows first-hand what it’s like to lose a child.
And to lose a child because of a brain tumour.
So the nursing home worker is deeply passionate about a campaign by The Brain Tumour Charity to help save the lives of children and young people.
After losing his two-year-old son Jake four years ago, to a brain tumour, Mr Kershaw wants to help stop such a tragedy happening to other families.
The HeadSmart campaign aims to raise awareness of the symptoms among health professionals and parents.
Mr Kershaw said: “My son’s tumour was never diagnosed. We had been to the doctors and he had the symptoms, but it wasn’t picked up.
“The HeadSmart campaign could have made a difference and Jake could have been here now.
“It’s so important to get the message out there today so other people might be spared the pain my family has been through losing Jake.
“One of the things the HeadSmart campaign seeks to do is to provide pocket-sized symptom cards in every school for every child in their reading books or school bags and so on so every parent sees them.
“When the charity launched the HeadSmart campaign in 2011, it took on average just over nine weeks to diagnose a childhood brain tumour in the UK.
“This is now down to seven-and-a-half weeks, but this is longer than many other comparable countries.”
SYMPTOMS IN ALL AGE GROUPS
Abnormal eye movements
Behaviour change, particularly lethargy
Fits or seizures (not with a fever)
Abnormal head position such as wry neck, head tilt or stiff neck
In five to 18 year-olds, they can also include:Persistent/recurrent headaches
In 12 to 18-year-olds symptoms might also include:Delayed or arrested puberty
Around 500 children and young people a year are diagnosed with a brain tumour – nearly 10 a week – and a quarter of all child cancers occur in the brain.
Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and young people, more than leukaemia.
But symptoms of a brain tumour can present in children in such a way they are frequently mistaken for less serious conditions such as viral infection, fatigue, migraine, even hay fever or depression.
A dedicated HeadSmart website, pocket-sized symptoms cards and smartphone apps are available to provide information for doctors, parents, carers and young people about how to spot the signs of a possible brain tumour.
For more information, log onto www.headsmart.org.uk
Anyone who would like to help the campaign with support, donations or fundraising, can call Mr Kershaw on 0786 063 2233.