Sidcup siblings to take on London Marathon following mum’s brain tumour diagnosis

3 min read

A brother and sister whose mum is living with an aggressive brain tumour are taking on the London Marathon to help fund the fight against the disease.

Gemma and James Hayes are aiming to raise £10,000 for the Brain Tumour Research charity by taking on the iconic Virgin Money London Marathon. The Sidcup siblings are running in honour of their mum, Carol Hayes, who was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in February 2018.

Carol, an otherwise fit and healthy 56-year-old, was walking to her job as a court clerk at the Old Bailey when she lost peripheral vision on one side. Terrified, she headed immediately to the opticians and was sent to A&E at King’s College Hospital. Scans found a brain tumour and two weeks later, the mum-of-two was in surgery. Since then, Carol has undergone radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a second operation.

Gemma, a doctor at London Bridge Hospital, said: “Mum has had an extremely tough year but she remains positive and never complains about anything. She is a real inspiration to a lot of people, including me and James.

“It is really hard for us to watch her go through something so life-changing. Since her diagnosis, we have come to realise how severely underfunded research into brain tumours is, and we want to do something to change this.”

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.

James, who works at Barclays Bank PLC as a banker added: “This will be a huge challenge for us but we are very determined and will train very hard. Seeing my mum go through all of this and remaining so strong and positive has been so inspirational to me and I am so very proud of her.

“Our whole family is determined to make a difference and raise as much money and awareness as possible to support research into brain tumours. My dad, Gary, is raising money on his Facebook and Gemma and I want to raise £10,000 through the London Marathon.”

The siblings will join tens of thousands of runners on Sunday 28 April as they take part in the marathon, which is the world’s most famous running event. The 26.2 mile course will take them through the heart of London, starting at Blackheath and finishing at The Mall. Limited spaces are still available on the Brain Tumour Research team.

Janice Wright, community fundraising manager at Brain Tumour Research in London, said: “Best of luck to Gemma and James as they train for the marathon; we’re extremely grateful for their support and thank them for helping us to raise awareness of this awful disease.

“For too long brain tumours have been a neglected cancer and we cannot allow this situation to continue. If you’ve been inspired by Gemma and James, please support them or enquire about joining our London Marathon team.”

On Saturday 2 February, Gemma and James will also launch ‘Carol’s Fund’, a Fundraising Group under the umbrella of Brain Tumour Research, with a Tipsy Tea party. The event will take place at their home in Sidcup and raise money and awareness for the cause.

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence in the UK; it also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

To apply for a place on the Brain Tumour Research London Marathon team, email

To help Gemma and James reach their target, go to:


For further information, please contact:
Farel James at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867221 or 07592 597843 or


Notes to Editors

Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK dedicated to raising funds for continuous and sustainable scientific research into brain tumours, and we are a leading voice calling for greater support and action for research into what scientists are calling the last battleground against cancer.

We are building a network of experts in sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence whilst influencing the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more nationally.

We welcome recent funding announcements for research into brain tumours from the UK Government and Cancer Research UK – £65 million pledged over the next five years. However, this potential funding of £13 million a year comes with a catch – money will only be granted to quality research proposals and, due to the historic lack of investment, there may not be enough of these applications that qualify for grants from this pot.

We want research funding parity with breast cancer and leukaemia. We are calling for a £30-35 million investment every year for research into brain tumours in order to fund the ground-breaking research needed to accelerate the translation from laboratory discoveries into clinical trials and fast-track new therapies for this devastating disease.

The Brain Tumour Research charity is a powerful campaigning organisation and represents the voice of the brain tumour community across the UK. We helped establish and provide the ongoing Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Brain Tumours (APPGBT) which published its report Brain Tumours A cost too much to bear? in 2018. Led by the charity, the report examines the economic and social impacts of a brain tumour diagnosis. We are also a key player in the development strategy for the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. 

Key statistics on brain tumours:

  • Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age
  • Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
  • Historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours
  • In the UK, 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
  • Brain tumours kill more children than leukaemia
  • Brain tumours kill more men under 45 than prostate cancer
  • Brain tumours kill more women under 35 than breast cancer
  • Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers

Please quote Brain Tumour Research as the source when using this information. Additional facts and statistics are available from our website. We can also provide case studies and research expertise for the media.

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