A young girl who died after suddenly being struck by an aggressive brain tumour will leave a lasting legacy as groundbreaking research will be carried out in her name.
Katy Holmes, 10, of Margaret Road, Penwortham, was a happy and healthy young girl until October last year when she was suddenly diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. She died just months later in January this year.
Since Katy’s death, her devastated parents Paula and David have been tirelessly fundraising and fighting to raise awareness of paediatric brain tumours and they launched the Katy Holmes Trust, which has already raised £90,000.
Katy’s parents felt strongly that they wanted to fund research into childhood brain tumours to prevent other families going through the same heartache and have now pledged to use Katy’s charity to support significant research being carried out at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham.
The centre needs £185,000 for a three year research fellowship into the same type of brain tumour that Katy died of and if the Katy Holmes Trust funds this research, they will name it after Katy.
Paula and David went to Nottingham to meet Professors Richard Grundy and David Walker at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre and say they have been filled with inspiration and hope.
Paula said: “To our amazement, we discovered the centre is researching the same type of tumour that Katy had - Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
“This tumour is located in the middle of the brain stem and is inoperable and the survival rates for children with this type of brain tumour have been the same for the last 40 years.
“The centre in Nottingham has already made significant discoveries and has found that 70% of DIPG patients had a mutant gene called K27.
“This gene was found in all of those that died from DIPG but was not present in those few that survived.
“The centre is conducting research into the biology of this K27 gene. They aim to discover what it is, where it has come from, how it grows and how to treat it.
“The research will cost £185,000 for a three year fellowship and if we fund it, they will name it after Katy.
“They also have other projects we could apply funds into that would be eligible to be match funded by the University of Nottingham. The more money we raise, the more research we can fund.
“Dave and I are very confident that the money people have generously raised will be well placed here.
“We want people to carry on supporting the Katy Holmes Trust so they can be part of finding the cure for these brain tumours and save lives. When you lose a child to cancer all you want to do is find out why or catch the killer.
“The killer is within our reach and we are desperate to catch it and put it away for good.”
Prof Richard Grundy, professor of paediatric neuro oncology and cancer biology at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, said: “We are trying to find out how to improve the absolutely dismal prognosis of this type of brain tumour.
“The only way to do that is to understand the underlying biology of these tumours to find out what makes them behave in such an aggressive way.
“They have a very distinct age of presentation of between three and around nine years of age with a peak at the age of six.
“In the last 18 months, we have made a lot of progress and a huge breakthrough discovering a mutation of a gene in affected children.
“I think it is really high minded for the Holmes family who are still grieving for their own child to see above and beyond that and think of other families and children.
“I really admire them for this as it is a huge altruistic act to fundraise for something that they will not benefit from themselves.”