The broadcaster is best known for helping others to improve their homes, or move to a better one after starting a property development and investment company at the tender age of 19. But what some may not realise is that Sarah supports multiple charities, including Brain Tumour Research, after losing not only her mother, but her stepmother to the “dreadful disease” that is cancer.
Since becoming a patron of Brain Tumour Research in 2017, Sarah has bravely opened up about the death of her mother, who sadly passed away at the age of 39.
She hopes that by supporting such charities, there will become a day where cancer is “no longer life-threatening, when the notion that cancer could be a killer is thought absurd.”
When her mother died, Sarah was aged just 10, but she still remembers how fast illness came over her.
Talking to Brain Tumour Research, she said: “My mum died aged 39, when I was just ten years old. First, she fought breast cancer, but it was ultimately a brain tumour that brought her life to a premature end.
“Mum had her life ahead of her, so many things she should have been doing and looking forward to. It’s hard to think about.
“As a young girl, I was protected from the harsher realities of my mother’s illness, but I still noticed. I remember how it seemed very quick from when she was first ill, to when she was no longer with us.
“Then, in 2012, my stepmother was diagnosed with a brain tumour situated behind her eye, which was deemed too tricky to treat. She too lost her life to this cancer.
“To have lost my mum thirty years ago, and, more recently, my stepmother, it is disheartening to hear that not much has changed.
“Brain tumours remain a forgotten form of cancer, receiving scant attention from potential funders. More research is needed so fewer lives will be devastated by this dreadful disease.”
The NHS explains that brain tumours occur due to a growth of cells in the brain that multiply in an uncontrollable way.
Typically, there are two types of brain tumour – primary
and secondary. The former is a tumour that starts in the brain and the latter is a cancer that starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the brain.
In addition, some brain tumours are benign, meaning they are non-cancerous. These tumours tend to grow slowly and are less likely to need further treatment compared to a malignant tumour.
Cancer Research UK explains that malignant brain tumours are fast growing and can spread to other parts of the brain. Around 5,500 people are diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in the UK, compared to 5,900 who are diagnosed with a benign tumour.
Individuals tend to experience symptoms due to a brain tumour because the tumour is taking space inside of the skull, causing pressure on other areas of the brain. Due to this, common symptoms of a brain tumour include feeling or being sick, headaches and seizures.
Depending on the position of the tumour, others also experience problems with their eyesight, which is not helped by wearing glasses. Individuals may lose the ability to see out of the corner of their eyes or experience blurred vision.
Personality changes also tend to occur, especially with tumours that are located in the frontal lobe – as this is the area of the brain that is responsible for making up part of your personality.
If you or someone you know starts to develop symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice, particularly if you have a headache that feels different from the type of headache you usually get, or if headaches are getting worse.
After tests, medical professionals will decide what course of treatment is best.Various treatments are available including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, steroids and other medicines to help deal with symptoms.
The NHS explains that survival rates are difficult to predict due to the various types of brain tumour that exist. However, in general around 15 out of 100 people with a cancerous brain tumour will survive for 10 years or more after diagnosis.
Sarah hopes that through more research, these statistics can improve. She added: “I want my generation to look back in future years and be incredulous that anyone died of cancer. The brain is a complicated organ to treat and there is so much to understand about how it actually works. Without more research, how will brain cancer ever be stopped in its tracks?”