Washington woman to remember husband who died after brain tumour diagnosis with Wear A Hat Day fundraiser - here's how you can help too

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A woman who lost her husband after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour is donning a hat to help fund research to find a cure.

Paul Marshall, 59, from Washington, died from a glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour in July 2022, just 22 months after being diagnosed.

His wife, Michelle Marshall, 49, is taking part in Wear A Hat Day for the charity Brain Tumour Research on Friday 31 March.

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She said: “When we were told Paul had a glioblastoma (GBM) we didn’t want to know the prognosis but I eventually googled it and saw it was 12-18 months. I was in total shock because he looked so well.”

Paul in one of his hats and Michelle.Paul in one of his hats and Michelle.
Paul in one of his hats and Michelle.

In August 2020, Paul was initially treated for sinus problems when he started having headaches and problems with his vision, but when the symptoms persisted, he had an MRI scan at Sunderland Royal Hospital which revealed the tumour.

Michelle said: “Paul’s brother, Gary, and I weren’t allowed to be with him because of Covid.

"When he was told he had a brain tumour, he was on his own and he was scared. It was totally unexpected and we were all devastated.”

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Paul had an operation to remove the tumour at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle. The surgeon was unable to remove all of it because it would have affected Paul’s mobility and sight.

Paul Marshall in hospitalPaul Marshall in hospital
Paul Marshall in hospital

Michelle said: “Paul hated not being able to drive, so we both bought electric bikes. We had a lovely summer in 2021 and we went on lots of bike rides.

"We even cycled seven miles to Roker beach and watched dolphins swimming in the sea, it was fantastic. The bike gave him his freedom back.”

In November, Paul underwent a six-week course of radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle which left him feeling very sick. In September 2021, Paul had a check-up MRI scan which showed the tumour had grown.

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Michelle said: “We always knew it would happen, so we just had to deal with it.

Michelle and Paul Marshall on their wedding day.Michelle and Paul Marshall on their wedding day.
Michelle and Paul Marshall on their wedding day.

"Paul had a second operation on October 12. We thought it had gone well, but his scar wouldn’t heal properly. He became really unwell, his mobility went and he had some falls.”

Paul also developed a massive infection in his brain which needed to be removed via surgery. Paul died on July 13, 2022, with Michelle, Gary, and his sisters, Janette and Susan by his side.

Wear A Hat Day is on Friday, March 31, but Michelle will be celebrating on March 26 to coincide with what would have been Paul’s 60th birthday.

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She said: “There is so little Government funding for research into brain tumours and there haven’t been any developments in how brain tumours are treated for years.

Michelle Marshall is supporting Brain Tumour Research.Michelle Marshall is supporting Brain Tumour Research.
Michelle Marshall is supporting Brain Tumour Research.

"In America, there are all sorts of different treatments which aren’t available in the UK. We just have the same old chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I want to see money spent on research and new treatments.”

Brain Tumour Research encourages people to don hats of all shapes and sizes on the last Friday in March as part of its flagship Wear a Hat Day fundraiser, which has raised more than £2million to help fund vital research into brain tumours.

In March Brain Tumour Research will launch a fourth Research Centre, bringing it one step closer to its mission of establishing a network of seven Centres of Excellence across the UK.

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Wear A Hat Day funds are also essential in helping the charity maximise its campaigning to increase the UK investment in brain tumour research, working with UK governments and the larger cancer charities, influencing brain tumour research policies at the highest levels.

Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to Michelle for taking part in Wear A Hat Day as it’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Paul who are forced to fight this awful disease.

“People can get involved in Wear A Hat Day in so many fun and easy ways, the list really is endless. Wear a hat and hold a walk, a party, a quiz night or a bake sale. Or get your thinking cap on and come up with something totally unique.”

Paul Marshall.Paul Marshall.
Paul Marshall.

People are invited to pop a hat on, make a donation and take a selfie to share on social media using #WearAHatDay.

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To take part as a community, school or workplace visit www.braintumourresearch.org/fundraise/wear-a-hat-day.

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

A statement on the Brain Tumor Research website reads: “One of the UK’s most popular annual fundraisers is back for 2023. Join in, look super for science and help research breakthroughs happen. Our scientists are delighted to be featured in the campaign this time – please join us to make this the best year ever.

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“Going from strength to strength for over a decade, it is incredible that over this time Wear A Hat Day events have raised more than £2 million to help fund vital research and raise powerful awareness of brain tumours.

“Sign up today and help us make Wear A Hat Day 2023 a record-breaking success.”