SUN fitness expert Nicki Waterman lived her life helping others – and before she died from a rare and ferocious brain tumour she asked her daughter Alex to continue that work.
Through private pioneering immunotherapy treatment Nicki managed to prolong her life and was convinced it could one day offer a cure to NHS patients throughout the UK if there was enough investment into research.
Getty Images – Getty Tragic fitness expert Nicki Waterman passed away from a brain tumour in 2016
Now this research is finally taking place to find that cure and the first trial of NHS patients has started – but without more charitable donations it won’t have the funds to continue to the next stages.
That’s why today the Sun on Sunday has teamed up with Alex, 33, and her best friend Hayley Costa, 39, whose mum Beverly also tragically died from a brain tumour five-years-ago to launch the ‘Use Your Brain Campaign’ to help raise this money.
Alex said: “Mummy just wanted to help everyone – and she inspired me to follow in her footsteps.
“There was very little anyone could do for her when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We don’t currently have effective treatments to offer patients but by raising money for research we can help fight this cruel cancer together.”
The National Brain Appeal charity has helped raise nearly half of the £250,000 target needed for the initial research but they need help to raise the rest
They are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 yet just two per cent of the £500 million yearly research budget goes into looking for cures for brain tumours.
Immunotherapies are the great hope in cancer medicine. They are drugs that harness the body’s own ability to kill cancer cells and it allowed Nicki, who died in August 2016 aged just 52, the precious extra time to see her son Harry get married.
And it was what Baroness Tessa Jowell turned to in Germany after running out of options in London.
Nicki’s doctor, medical oncologist Paul Mulholland from The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, has already started the trial on NHS patients across the UK.
The National Brain Appeal is fund-raising for this programme of clinical trials. Without this valuable help this programme would not have startedPaul Mulholland
The National Brain Appeal charity has helped raise nearly half of the £250,000 target needed for the initial research but they need help to raise the rest.
Paul told us: “A new approach is needed for the treatment of brain cancer. We are aiming to bring together the newest drugs together with the latest developments in scientific research to find a cure for this devastating disease.
“This will be achieved through a rolling programme of clinical trials. Our first trial is open and is currently recruiting.
It is called the IPI-GLIO immunotherapy trial for newly diagnosed glioblastoma brain cancer patients in the UK.
I’m sorry that Nicki is not here to see this achievement given that she was so powerful in raising awareness to help to make it happenPaul Mulholland
The next phase will be to run multiple, smaller trials where the trial design will be adapted depending on the results that are obtained.
“This is the quickest route to finding a cure for brain cancer.
“The National Brain Appeal is fund-raising for this programme of clinical trials. Without this valuable help this programme would not have started and NHS brain cancer patients are being treated with new drugs today thanks to the charity.
“This was something that Nicki Waterman wanted and felt passionate about. She had access to immunotherapy treatment due to having private healthcare and she wanted this to be extended to NHS patients.
BRAIN TUMOUR AWARENESS MONTH
“I’m sorry that Nicki is not here to see this achievement given that she was so powerful in raising awareness to help to make it happen. It is admirable how Nicki’s daughter Alex and her friend Hayley have turned the tragedy of losing their mothers into something positive by raising awareness of brain cancer and helping to raise money for these clinical trials.”
Almost 11,000 people are diagnosed each year with a primary brain tumour – 30 people every day and they reduce life expectancy by on average 20 years – the highest of any cancer. Just 19 per cent of adults survive for five years after diagnosis.
Alex and Hayley tragically know just how cruel this disease can be. Alex – speaking ahead of Brain Tumour Awareness Month which starts next week – said: “Brain tumours are so common, so deadly but yet receive such little funding. This is about finding a cure. I am so excited about these trials – and raising money to make sure that cure is found.
“The Use Your Brain Campaign is about spreading some happiness while raising money and awareness.
“Taking part is simple. We are asking people to do something kind – by giving a kind word to somebody who seems a bit down, stopping to chat to an elderly neighbour or just by listening to a friend in need – and then take a thumbs up selfie with the tag #useyourbrain.
“And then the vital bit – donate to the appeal to help the research and stamp out this dreadful cancer.
FATAL PLUNGE Woman dangles from tower block window ‘by HAIR’ before plunging 100ft to death LEFT TO CHOKE Care home staff left patient, 80, slumped over desk to ‘choke on own saliva’ SUN THINGS UP Brits set for 10 more days of heat as it gets HOTTER… Before snow returns RevealedFINAL TAUNT Ian Brady’s cryptic letter to victim’s brother on where to find body ‘NOT IN HER HEART’ Neighbours warn Shamima Begum’s ‘lying about changing to get back to UK’ CONCRETE TOMB Woman ‘killed paedo lover and set his body in cement for abusing her son’
“I hope that this campaign spreads some happiness, kindness and fun too. We can all spare a couple of minutes a day to be kind to each other. It’s a no brainer!”
Theresa Dauncey, Chief Executive of The National Brain Appeal, said that investment in brain cancer research has been ‘abysmal’
She told us: “There is an urgent need for new treatments for this devastating disease We are so grateful to Alex, Hayley and the Sun on Sunday for their enthusiasm and support to help raise both awareness and funds for Dr Paul Mulholland’s clinical trials.”
How to help
Take part in a random act of kindness.
Then post a thumbs-up selfie on social media with the hashtag #useyourbrain.
Finally, donate by texting “NICKI” plus the amount you want to give to 70085. For example, to donate £5 text “NICKI 5”. Alternatively, donate on Just Giving.
Daughter Alex and pal Hayley are continuing Nicki’s legacy by campaigning for pioneering treatment to made available on the NHS
Reality TV star Scarlett Moffatt backs The Sun’s campaign in honour of Nicki
To support our campaign simply post a thumbs-up selfie on social media like boxer Dereck Chisora
Presenter Ben Shephard also supports the #useyourbrain campaign
All Saints singer Natalie Appleton shows support in this thumbs-up selfie
AFP Baroness Tessa Jowell turned to treatment in Germany after running out of options in London.