Daniel Gilliland

3 min read

Daniel Gilliland, from Leeds, died from a glioblastoma (GBM) in November 2023, just 13 months after being diagnosed. The dad-of-two had suffered several seizures in 2022. A scan revealed a tumour, so Dan underwent surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He moved into a hospice and died in November 2023 while his youngest son was fundraising for Brain Tumour Research.

Daniel’s wife Alison tells his story…

Dan’s life was very much around his family, especially the boys, Felix and George, and supporting them with their sport. He also loved watching sport, music and had a great sense of humour.

In August 2022, Dan was at a cricket festival with the boys; he called me to say they would be setting off for home in ten minutes. A few minutes later, the boys' cricket coach phoned, telling me that Dan had suffered a massive seizure by the side of the pitch.

Dan was taken by ambulance to A&E at York hospital where he had another seizure. He had a CT scan, but it was totally clear.

Dan was discharged and we all went on holiday to Spain, but shortly after returning he had another seizure. We then went away for Dan’s 50th birthday; he had another seizure, so he was taken to The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

“The doctors thought he had epilepsy, so they gave him anti-seizure medication. Dan soon went downhill though; he started getting headaches and became confused.”

He was watching football on the TV with the boys. It was Liverpool against Manchester City, but he couldn’t remember the name of James Milner which was odd because James Milner grew up very locally to us and had played for Liverpool for years.

I took Dan to A&E at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI). He had another CT scan but, this time, it revealed a large tumour on his brain.

“It was a massive shock; I was devastated for our family because we had so much to look forward to in life. We had gone from the boys playing cricket and everything being normal, to everything being turned upside down.”

I didn’t know much about brain tumours, but I knew this wasn’t good. Dan was given steroids to reduce the swelling on his brain. It made a big difference and really helped, but the downside was that they made him feel very panicky.

Dan had an operation to remove the tumour on 28 October. It went very well, with surgeons managing to remove 98% of it. He then started radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Leeds Cancer Centre which is based at St James’s University Hospital.

In May 2023, a scan showed there might have been slight regrowth of the tumour so they changed his chemotherapy drug.

Daniel was doing pretty well so he returned to his engineering job for six months, but he had to stop in September because he started suffering from headaches and tiredness, and his speech started to deteriorate.

The doctors said the drugs weren’t working and moved Dan to a third line of chemotherapy. They also said Dan would now only have months left to live. It was awful to be told that, and it was really hard for Dan and the boys.

“The realisation Dan wouldn’t be there to see the boys grow up was devastating. He had two rounds of a different type of chemotherapy at the end of October, but it made him really sick.”

Dan moved into Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley, but he died soon after, on 16 November 2023.

Our youngest son, Felix, was halfway through the 100 a Day, Your Way in November Challenge to raise money for Brain Tumour Research when Dan died.

“Felix felt helpless, so this challenge was his way of doing something. I’m so proud of him for sticking with it. He raised more than £3,600 which made him feel like people cared about his dad, which meant a lot to him.”

Hopefully, one day, boys like Felix will have their dads around for longer when better treatments and a cure are found.

Alison Gilliland
November 2023

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer... yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

If you have been touched by Daniel’s story, you may like to make a donation via www.braintumourresearch.org/donation/donate-now or leave a gift in your will via www.braintumourresearch.org/legacy

Together we will find a cure.

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