Councillor tells of heartbreak at losing brother to brain tumour

Ryan Smart.
Ryan Smart.

A Fife councillor has spoken emotionally in support of a brain tumour charity, just three months after losing his brother to cancer – and won the backing of Fife Council.

It became the first local authority in UK to promote the Brain Tumour Charity’s campaign Head Start thanks to Ryan Smart’s moving speech.

Councillors back the Brain Tumour Charity.

Councillors back the Brain Tumour Charity.

The initiative raises awareness for the symptoms of brain tumours.

Cllr Smart lost his brother to such a condition just three months ago.

His motion noted the concern over the lack of awareness of brain tumours in Fife, despite it being the biggest killer of children and adults under the age of 40.

Councillor Smart said: “This is an emotional subject for me.

“Three and a half months ago I lost my big brother to a brain tumour, which absolutely devastated our family and everyone who knew him.”
He told councillors how the condition was diagnosed, and the impact it had on his family.

“For weeks he had been feeling tired and ill. He put this down to working too much, and continued to go on about his daily life.

“On a Sunday evening his wife became concerned that his face had fallen to one side and he was immediately rushed to Victoria Hospital. It wasn’t until the following morning that the horrific news of Richard’s illness came to light. On Monday morning, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.”
Councillor Smart continued: “A few weeks after the final surgery, Richard got the prognosis of his tumour. It was a very rare form and he was told he would have a minimum of 18 months to two years to live. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy did not save his life, but it did prolong it.

“Richard has a wife and two daughters. Every day he fought his illness not for himself, but for them. He’s an inspiration for us all.”

Richard passed away on November 16 last year.

Added Cllr Smart: “Richard’s story is just one. Brain tumours are the biggest killer cancer under 40. The symptoms are going undiagnosed. It kills one child every three days – children under 12 are diagnosed in seven weeks, but teens take 10 weeks.

“Symptoms are difficult to differentiate from benign causes and sometimes get put down to just being a teenager, or exam stress. It’s important that parents and teenagers are vigilant. A delay can mean the difference between life and death.”

Head Start was launched in 2011 to raise awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours. Symptoms include persistent/ recurrent headaches, balance, co-ordination or walking problems, and blurred or double vision.

Backing the motion, Councillor Carol Lindsay said: “I support this in memory of my partner’s father. Brain tumours in children kill the same number as meningitis, but parents are much less aware of the symptoms.

“We need to arm ourselves with getting to know the signs and symptoms. Diagnosing a child early can save lives.”