Sam Suriakumar

4 min read

Doting husband and father Sam, who is a self-employed recruitment consultant and part-time musician, was diagnosed with a brain tumour after being taken ill on his commute home from work. He is now hoping to inspire others to embrace the moment and make every day count.

Sam tells his story…

When I was first told I had a brain tumour my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get time to spend with my wife and our two precious daughters. Now, during the coronavirus lockdown, I have all the time in the world and I feel this is a great gift and I am doing my utmost to make the best of it. I’m doing the home schooling, baking the banana bread while my wife Sindhu, who is a GP, continues to work.

My diagnosis came out of the blue in early February and, suddenly, my life changed. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t drive and my future was far from certain. It made me realise what was really important to me. It has brought Sindhu and me closer and, she and our daughters Avaana, who is five, and Arya, three, are my whole world and absolutely the thing that matters most to me. Sindhu and I met through our love of South Asian music and got married in 2011.

In some ways I feel as if had a head-start on the lockdown. I know that many people are saying that their lives changed enormously almost overnight and that’s how it was for us as soon as I was diagnosed in early February 2020. It was very difficult and I was all over the place.

When I first heard the words “brain tumour” it felt like life had stopped and I was in a dark tunnel with no light. I couldn’t speak, hear or understand what was going on. To be honest, I am still trying to digest it and, as terrifying as things are, it will not defeat me. But now I feel as if the darkness was there because I had shut my eyes in an attempt to make things go away. When I was able to open my eyes, I saw so much more light and love that I wasn’t able to appreciate before.

“Life looks more beautiful already; I am now living my best life and suddenly menial things are just irrelevant. My fight has begun and I am ready, every second of every day. Make no mistake, with God by my side, I feel as if I have already won.”

We worship at Sutton Vineyard Church not far from our home in Worcester Park, Surrey, and my Christian faith has only grown stronger as a result of my brain tumour.

We can’t thank people enough for showering us with so much love, support and prayers. The difference which can be made by showing kindness, giving people your time and telling them you care is enormous. I don’t want to lecture or preach but I do hope I can inspire people to love the moment and make it count because tomorrow is always a gift and not a guarantee whilst today is yours to own and control.

My brain tumour is a glioma which is growing like a cobweb. This means it is difficult to remove with surgery without causing damage to the areas of my brain which control speech, memory, emotions and mobility. I have been told that if I do have an operation it would only be possible to remove 40% of the mass. There are a lot of questions still to be answered about what will happen to me and I am awaiting a scan in May. After that, the doctors may decide they need to do a biopsy to find out more about what type of tumour I have or possibly put me on chemotherapy to try to prevent further growth.

“I hope that people will be inspired by my story. I am a Sri Lankan Tamil and am keen to say that having a disease like this is not something which should be hidden as often happens in Asian culture.”

I knew very little about brain tumours before my diagnosis but was keen to raise awareness, particularly of the underfunding for research to understand the disease and find a cure. We set up a JustGiving page for Brain Tumour Research with plans to do some fundraising but the coronavirus obviously meant massive changes to all our lives. We are absolutely astonished that people have rallied round up and, incredibly, we have raised nearly £8,000 in a matter of weeks.

Sam Suriakumar
April 2020

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 just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

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