In Fundraising News, Patient story

From intensive physiotherapy and school in hospital, to a big brain tumour walk.

Dan’s journey to trekking 50 miles for others with a brain tumour.

“ The events are great, you can talk to people who just get it”


Dan’s brain tumour symptoms, aged 8

In June 1992 Dan was 8 years old. He began experiencing severe headaches and nausea. These caused major concerns for his family and he was taken to see the GP who referred him to hospital for scans.

Brain tumour diagnosis

After many tests Dan and his family were told he had hydrocephalus and a brain tumour located at the rear of his head on the cerebellum. The cerebelum controls your movement, balance and co-ordination.

The tumour was in-between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball

Learning to walk again

Still only 8, Dan underwent a 10 hour craniotomy to remove the fluid in the brain and the tumour. The surgery was a success, but Dan was now unable to walk. It took 4 months of physiotherapy and mental resilience as an inpatient for him to regain the ability to walk again. Alongside his recovery he attended school in the hospital for a few months. He used activities like painting and sewing to help improve his co-ordination.


Today, Dan has been in remission for over 20 years. However he occasionally experiences severe headaches. These are triggered by tiredness and fragrances. He now runs his own business and is actively keeping fit.

Volunteering to help others

Dan has always been heavily involved in volunteering for causes close to his heart. He helps the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Great Ormand Street Childrens Hospital and the NSPCC as well as brainstrust. By the age of 21 he ran his first London marathon for Cancer Research UK and went on to run over 5 Great North Runs raising money for different charities.

In 2015 Dan had to have further surgery to remove part of his lung

But in 2015 Dan’s lung collapsed and he could no longer run long distances, so Dan looked into walking events. This is how he discovered brainstrust’s Follow the Seagulls treks. These involve walking 50 miles in 2 days on foot. But sadly Dan’s struggles with health returned, and in 2020 he had to go back to hospital to have part of his lung removed. But even this didn’t stop him wanting to challenge himself and make a difference for others.

Dan walks 100 miles, inspires the community and raises £3000 to support people with a brain tumour

In September 2021 he completed both the Isle of Wight and Fife coast treks within 2 weeks of each other, and all whilst dressed as a seagull. Dan’s raised over £3000 for brainstrust and he plans to walk the next Seagulls event in 2023 alongside many other amazing campaigners who are out to improve life for people with a brain tumour.

“ The events are great, you can talk to people who just get it”

Dan’s journey is inspiring and we are honoured to have such amazing volunteers support our charity.

To sign up to be a Follow the Seagulls superhero this April click here!

Dan’s story has been captured and written by brainstrust volunteer Pippa Simpson who endured her own diagnosis with a rare brain tumour back in 2018. She has since had 12 clear MRI scans.

If you want to volunteer, like Dan and Pippa, check out current opportunities here.

the brain box appeal for people with a brain tumourCarolyn's follow the seagulls story


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: