A brave teenager who has only weeks to live after fighting cancer for five years has said: “You can’t win them all”.
David Langton-Gilks, 16, from Fontmell Magna, near Gillingham, in Dorset, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 11.
Invasive surgery and lengthy radio and chemotherapy followed, and until five weeks ago he and his family believed all was well. Then he relapsed and doctored found tumours had spread to his spine.
His parents, Toby and Sacha, have respected his wish not to have suffer the pain and discomfort of more treatment, and are campaigning to make other parents aware of the symptoms of brain tumours, which are often confused with non-life-threatening conditions. Mrs Langton-Gilks wants to get HeadSmart symptom cards into every school in the country.
David is focusing on his school prom which he hopes to attend next Thursday.
The eldest of three children, he said: “Before I was diagnosed I was feeling really weird, sicky and getting really bad headaches, I just thought I was coming down with something.
“I’ve relapsed several times – but now I’m kind of stuffed. But hey you can’t win them all.”
In the UK 500 children are diagnosed with brain tumours each year, around the same number as meningitis cases. Across the UK, more children and people under the age of 40 die of a brain tumour than any other cancer, but few parents are aware of the danger signs.
Symptoms include vomiting, headaches, changes in mood and behaviour, and abnormal eye movements.
Mrs Langton-Gilks, 44, a singing teacher said: “I didn’t link the headache week one, with one vomit week two with another headache in week three, with a vomit in week four.
“I didn’t know to ask about his eyes.
“I had thought he was being a bit placid, but I didn’t know that it is the classic behavioural change.”
She believes that if she had known the symptoms she would have been able to get David to hospital three weeks earlier and he would have stood a much better chance of survival.
She has been delivering pocket-sized HeadSmart symptom cards throughout primary schools in North Dorset, hoping to make more families aware of the condition.
She said: “It’s so important parents know how to pick up signs of meningitis, we need them to pick up the signs of a brain tumour.”