The PPR Foundation is a brain tumour charity based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and launched on September 9, 2009 (9,9,9)
Our mission is simple: to ask one million people to donate £1 each, raising a total of £1m to pay for research into one of the most woefully underfunded fields of medicine.
The charity has pledged 100% of all the money raised will go towards brain tumour research. The trustees and volunteers – nearly all of whose lives have been directly affected by the death of a loved one from a brain tumour - cover all administration costs and expenses personally.
We have made a wonderful start, but there is still a long way to go – and we need your help.
Pamela Roberts - Founder
All stories need an introduction and I'd like to start with a very traditional one.
Once upon a time...
...In the city of Liverpool, two children – a boy aged 12 and a girl aged 11 - met at Sunday school and became childhood sweethearts and, from then on, their lives became one. Their teenage years were fun and exciting; it was the era of the Mersey Sound, The Beatles, The Cavern Club, coffee bars, the mini skirt and so much more. They married at a very young age and had two very special children. They were soul mates, best friends and planned to live happily ever after. Well, that’s what happens in fairy tales, isn't it? That is, until the day the fairy tale became a nightmare and they faced the biggest horror of their lives.
These two people were my husband Peter and I. Our idyllic life changed dramatically the day we were told Peter had a malignant brain tumour and this awful, chilling news was delivered to us on Peter’s 56th birthday. We both knew that, from that moment on, we faced a cruel ticking time bomb and things were never going to be the same again. We still had so much to do, so much to see – we had so many unfinished dreams; in fact, we suddenly realised we’d barely started. We thought that, because Peter had retired aged 55, it was our time to do all the things that we wanted to do; we had so many plans. We spent the next 12 months on fast-forward and we packed ten years into that time, treasuring moments when we could enjoy all life has to offer and, of course, with Peter simultaneously enduring the radiotherapy and various chemotherapy treatments he had to face. Our feet barely touched the ground and we were almost challenging death to catch up with us.
It was inevitable that we could not continue to live life at such a pace and, as Peter's health deteriorated, we were forced to live very quietly at home together and face the chilling outcome of this dreadful disease. Peter lost nearly all his vision, his hearing and then his speech. He gradually spent more and more of his time in "Peter-Land", locked in this awful, lonely and frightening world. It was absolutely terrible for him and I thought my heart would break watching the love of my life gradually slip away. I spent hours and hours on the Internet, looking for something that would give us hope. We tried everything that might even make the tiniest difference and I spoke to people all over the world asking their advice - but all to no avail. Peter died quietly at home after spending four days in a coma during which time I did not leave him at all. Peter and I fought very hard to win - but we lost and, for us, our fairy tale was over. I had lost my soul mate and my best friend, the future was bleak. How was I going to carry on without him? This big, generous, warm-hearted man, who had been in my life since I was only 11 years old, was gone forever; what was I going to do? I wished I were dead!
My life without Peter was awful, it was empty and my grief was inconsolable. For the first three years, I lived on automatic pilot, not daring to let anyone know that I wanted to die too. I was the best actress that RADA never had! I also knew that I had to do something to shake myself out of this; I couldn't continue this way and things had to change. I decided my only way forward was to turn this terrible and very deep negative into something very positive and raise much-needed funds for research into this forgotten cancer. A million pounds I thought would be a good start and so The PPR Foundation Brain Tumour Research Project was formed. I knew this was going to be a challenge given the austere economic climate but then it came to me that, if a million people each gave me £1, we would have our £1m in no time. That was it - and that was the platform on which I launched my appeal.
It all began at my kitchen table and, since then, I have met some wonderful people, many of whom have travelled their own personal brain tumour journey and have joined me at The PPR Foundation. We work together tirelessly, using all the skills to raise much-needed funds for this vital research. I have thrown myself into this wholeheartedly as I don’t want other families to endure the cruel and bewildering journey Peter and I travelled. A cure has to be found and research is the only way forward. Breast cancer and leukemia are no longer the death sentence they once were and that is due to the millions of pounds ploughed into research. However, brain tumour research today is where breast cancer research was 35 years ago and, in my view, that's an absolute disgrace, especially as the occurrence of brain tumours is increasing year on year. It really is "the forgotten cancer" and is the single biggest cancer killer of young people aged 16 and under. That is absolutely shocking and even more shocking is the fact that this statistic is virtually unknown!
The PPR Foundation is currently funding a post-doctorate researcher, a research nurse, a lab technician and a PhD Student in the Brain Tumour Laboratory in Leeds, all on a three-year programme - but it's not enough. We need to be able to fund more personnel and we cannot do that without your help.
None of us has the ability to change the past but we can certainly influence the future and, together, we at The PPR Foundation Brain Tumour Research Project want to write a new chapter. We would very much like you to be part of it too.
Help us to eradicate this cruel and indiscriminate, terrifying cancer; support us and help us to fund research so that a cure can be found as soon as possible.