Paul Korhonen’s Story

Why? This is the year I plan to retire after forty years of working in financial services. A big and bold step for a fifty eight year old but it means I will be able to spend more time with my wife and family. More quality time both at home and abroad. I’ll also be able to enjoy those hobbies and interests that I just never got time for. However, in those early months of 2012, I had no idea of the events that would unfold and change my whole perspective on life.

A little bit about me first before I continue my story. I live in the north east of England and I spent my childhood years in Blyth which is about twelve miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne. During the whole of my career I have worked in and around the River Tyne and River Tees regions employed by a large global company since leaving school. I met my future wife whilst I was based at their Newcastle upon Tyne office in 1978. She worked for the same company. For me it was love at first sight – this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my days with! She lived locally in Dunston, Gateshead and we married two years later in 1980.

In 1983 our only son Christopher was born. Susan gave up work to be a full time mother to Christopher. After he left university he eventually ended up in New York where he met his future wife Katie who is from Alabama. They both work in New York and live in an apartment in Brooklyn with their dog Juno.

Things have changed a lot in the financial services industry over the years as no doubt it has in every other industry. It’s not the change but the pace it has been changing at which just keeps accelerating with each passing year. It is like an unstoppable train and you either cling on for dear life or get off at the next station if you can. I have had challenges thrown at me all throughout my career and always faced up to these even when I was often well out of my comfort zone. You learn a lot about yourself doing that and it helped me develop interpersonal skills for those leadership roles I undertook.

My quiet, reflective nature was not always suited to some of the pressures of leadership I faced and I found myself having to adapt my personal style many times. There is no doubt that the older you get the harder it is to adapt to change particularly if it is relentless. I think there comes a time when you start to question that change. In my job the change was implemented by a very autocratic management style at the very top of the organisation, or at least that is how it felt. Many things did not seem logical or pass the common sense test and to question this was seen as being “negative”. I have always been positive in my outlook but trying to present some business strategies to your team, when you are not fully on board yourself, was always very difficult for me.

I was in my mid forties when I first started to think ahead about retirement. I formulated a plan even at that early stage. The main concern for my wife and I was financial security. How would we cope?  Therefore our main thrust has been working towards being financially secure to enjoy retirement without any financial worries. Pay debt down and build up savings were the building blocks to achieving that goal. I was lucky enough to be in a good employment pension scheme which I knew would be a great asset.

The target age I set myself early on was fifty eight. By then I would have completed forty years service, maximising my pensionable years, but taking a small financial hit because I was retiring before the age of sixty.

Paul's brain tumour storyHere I was in 2012. The plan was coming together and this was crunch time. Did I have second thoughts? Would we manage financially? These are the kind of thoughts that must go through most people’s minds in the same position. It certainly was a case of do I stay or do I go? You’re never quite sure despite all that planning. However, for me it was an easy question to answer. In early June I handed in my notice of my intention to retire at the end of September. It was the start of a bright new world!

You can read Paul Korhonen’s, reflective, touching and very human story in full in his new book, ‘Living with Timmy’, available on Amazon:

With brainstrust, you are never alone. Click here to get in touch with one of our trained volunteers who has been through the same experiences you are going through.


The Brain Tumour Data Dashboard lets you explore up -to-date, population level data about the brain tumours diagnosed in England between 2013 and 2015. Using the drop down menus on the left you can select different groups of patients to view in the charts below. In these charts the number of patients for every 100 diagnoses is displayed as images of people. Patients have been grouped by date of diagnosis, type of tumour, age, gender, and region in England.

For each group of patients you can explore the different routes to diagnosis, the proportion of those who received chemotherapy or radiotherapy, as well as the survival of the patients within each group. For more information about what these metrics mean please see the glossary.

How to use

  1. Select the year of diagnosis using the drop down menu.
  2. Select your patient group of interest from the four drop down menus in the following order:
    1. Tumour group
    2. Age at diagnosis
    3. Region of England
    4. Gender of patient
  3. To view a second chart to compare different groups of patients, click the ‘compare’ button.The second chart will appear below the first chart.

*Note that the tool is best used on a laptop or tablet rather than a mobile phone*

Unavailable data

Some of the data in these charts is not available.There are two main reasons for this:

  1. How the data has been grouped

If you cannot select a patient group from the drop down menus, the data is unavailable because of how the data has been organised.

Public Health England has grouped the data like a branching tree. The bottom of the tree contains all the patients with brain tumours, and then each branch divides the data by a certain characteristics, like age, or location of tumour. But the data is divided in an order, starting with location of the tumour (endocrine or brain), then by age, region, and gender. Age is at the start because it makes a bigger difference to survival rates and treatment rates than gender or region. Sometimes, after the data has been split by type of tumour and age, there is not enough data to be split again. This is because to protect patient confidentiality groups cannot contain less than 100 patients. Because some groups cannot be split further, you cannot create ‘totals’ for everyone by region or gender. For example, you cannot see results for all ages by region, or all brain tumours by gender. If these totals were calculated and released, it might be possible to identify patients, which is why Public Health England cannot release this data.

  1. Statistical reasons and data availability

If you can select a patient group from the chart menus, but the chart does not display, the data is unavailable for one of several reasons:

  1. Data is not yet available for the selected year from Public Health England.
  2. Data is not available because the data quality is too poor to release this statistic.
  3. Data is not available as the statistic is not appropriate for this group.
  4. Data is not available because the standard error of the estimate was greater than 20% and so the estimate has been supressed.

Up to date brain tumour data

Brain tumour data may influence the decisions you make about your care. Data also helps you understand the bigger picture, or landscape, in which you find yourself.

Brain tumour data and statistics influence the focus, and work of organisations like brainstrust. The information helps us to understand the scale and impact of the problems we are setting out to solve.

This tool helps you understand the landscape in which you find yourself having been diagnosed with a brain tumour. This landscape can be particularly tricky to navigate as there are many different types of brain tumour, all of which have a different impact.

The information you see represents the most up-to-date, official, population level brain tumour data available for England. Over time we will be adding to the brain tumour data available and publishing reports, with recommendations, as a result of what we learn from this data.

The data behind this content has come from Public Health England’s National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) and is a direct result of the ‘Get Data Out’ project.

This project provides anonymised population level brain tumour data for public use in the form of standard output tables, accessible here:


The number or rate (per head of population) of new cases of a disease diagnosed in a given population during a specified time period (usually a calendar year). The crude rate is the total number of cases divided by the mid-year population, usually expressed per 100,000 population.


Malignant tumours which grow by invasion into surrounding tissues and have the ability to metastasise to distant sites


The number or rate (per head of population) of deaths in a given population during a specified time period (usually a calendar year). The crude rate is the total number of deaths divided by the mid-year population, usually expressed per 100,000 population.


Not cancerousNon-malignant tumours may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body.


The length of time from the date of diagnosis for a disease, such as cancer, that patients diagnosed with the disease are still alive. In a clinical trial, measuring the survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works. Also called ‘overall survival’ or ‘OS’.

Routes to Diagnosis

Under the ‘Routes to Diagnosis’ tab in the Brain Tumour Data Dashboard, you can explore the ways patients have been diagnosed with brain tumours. There are many ways, or routes, for cancers to be diagnosed in the NHS. A ‘route to diagnosis’ is the series of events between a patient and the healthcare system that leads to a diagnosis of cancer. The routes include:

  1. Two Week Wait

Patients are urgently referred by their GP for suspected cancer via the Two Week Wait system and are seen by a specialist within 2 weeks where they are diagnosed.

  1. GP referral

Diagnosis via a GP referral includes routine and urgent referrals where the patient was not referred under the Two Week Wait system.

  1. Emergency Presentation

Cancers can be diagnosed via emergency situations such as via A&E, emergency GP referral, emergency transfer or emergency admission.

  1. Outpatient

Outpatient cancer diagnoses include diagnoses via an elective route which started with an outpatient appointment that is either a self-referral or consultant to consultant referral. (It does not include those under the Two Week Wait referral system).

  1. Inpatient elective

Diagnosis via an inpatient elective route is where diagnosis occurs after the patient has been admitted into secondary care from a waiting list, or where the admission is booked or planned.

  1. Death Certificate Only

Diagnoses made by Death Certificate Only are made where there is no more information about the cancer diagnosis other than the cancer related death notifications. The date of diagnosis is the same as that of the date of death.

  1. Unknown

For some patients with a cancer diagnosis, there is no relevant data available to understand the route to diagnosis.


More information

If any of the statistical terms in this section of the brainstrust website are hard to understand, we recommend looking them up here:

Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Statistics Explained

If you are looking for help understanding terms relating specifically to brain tumours, and treatment, then the brainstrust glossary is available here: