Lancashire NHS worker who strove to improve outcomes for brain tumour patients dies three years after diagnosis
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An NHS worker, Zara was just 30 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma (GBM) – a high-grade form of brain cancer – in January 2021.
Her diagnosis came after she suffered a number of seizures out of the blue.
Zara underwent surgery, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy to give her the chance to spend more time with her loved ones, knowing that the average survival prognosis for this type of brain tumour is 12 to 18 months.
She also got in touch with the Care Oncology Clinic (COC) in Harley Street, London and was prescribed a number of repurposed drugs, again to help her prospects of survival.
Husband Jordan, 31, described Zara as “a really lovely, caring person who never liked a fuss.”
“She was funny with a dark sense of humour, which she kept right to the end, and she never gave herself credit for her achievements,” he said.
“When she learnt the implications of her diagnosis, Zara was determined to beat the odds and be one of the lucky five per cent who live for more than five years post-diagnosis.”
He added: “She was so selfless and wanted to help others diagnosed with this devastating disease, leading her to set up a Fundraising Group under the umbrella of the national charity Brain Tumour Research to help raise awareness and much-needed funds to help find a cure.”
Her fundraising activities for Zara’s Appeal for a Cure included the charity’s 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge, Jog 26 Miles in May, Wear A Hat Day and Cycle 274 Miles in August, as well as a glittering party night at Lytham Cricket & Sports Club attended by more than 100 family and friends.
Along with incredible support from friends and family, Zara raised more than £19,000 for Brain Tumour Research.
Jordan, a retail manager with the Co-op, met Zara ten years ago through his sister Kendall.
They had only been married just over a year when Zara started having seizures.
“Our dreams included doing lots of travelling and having children,” he said.
“Zara had a minor gynaecological procedure in December 2020 to help her fertility.
“Sadly, just days later, she had her first seizure and instead of starting a family, Zara had to make do with mothering her surrogate children – her beloved dogs Lola and Tia.
“Every day after Zara’s diagnosis was a bonus.”
He added: “I particularly want to thank the Co-op for all the care and support they have shown me throughout Zara’s illness and now, as well as the district nurses who looked after her amazingly, and the community team from Trinity Hospice, who enabled us to keep Zara at home right up until the end.
“Until you find yourself in the position, you imagine that everything is equal in terms of cancer, but I am angry that brain tumours continue to kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet the funding to find a cure is woefully inadequate,” Jordan added.
Zara’s funeral – which will take place at Carleton Crematorium on Thursday, November 16 – will be a celebration of her life.
She asked everyone to wear something pink and for people donate to Brain Tumour Research rather than buying flowers.
Matthew Price, Community Development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Zara’s story is a stark reminder of the indiscriminate nature of this disease, which can affect anyone at any time.
“We’re really grateful to Zara and her family for their incredible fundraising support and for helping us to raise awareness and offer our sincere condolences to all who knew and loved Zara.
“We will remember Zara as we continue our work to raise awareness of this devastating disease and to fund research to help find a cure. She will be forever in our hearts.”
To make a donation to Zara’s Appeal for a Cure, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zarasappealforacure