The BBC TV soap East Enders is to tackle the emotive subject of brain tumours in a new storyline. The Media Centre reports that the young character Lola Pearce, who is played by actress Danielle Harold, will be diagnosed with a brain tumour in a plotline to be aired during the autumn.
To ensure that the portrayal of the situation was accurate, relatable, and sensitive to viewers who may have found themselves in a similar sad situation, the BBC worked with leading charities, including Brain Tumour Research and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Actress Danielle Harold said: “It means so much to be trusted with a storyline like this – one that’s close to many people’s hearts. Sadly many of our viewers will be able to relate to Lola’s story, and it’s been heart-breaking to speak to the families affected by brain tumours and hear their stories.
She added: “They’ve been so amazing in sharing their experiences with me, and I’m so lucky to have them. I wouldn’t be able to do this storyline without their support.”
A brain tumour diagnosis is a life-changing event, both for the patients and their loved ones. It can be a difficult and distressing time, as there are so many practical issues to consider, such as work and careers, finances, and care, as well as the profound emotional impact that such news can carry.
Sue Castle-Smith, Head of PR and Communications at the charity Brain Tumour Research said: “We are extremely grateful to EastEnders for helping to raise awareness of brain tumours.”
She added: “Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer and, sadly, Lola’s story will be all too familiar to one in three people who know someone affected by this devastating disease.”
Viewers who might be alerted to the signs and symptoms of a potential brain tumour through watching the TV show are encouraged to visit their GP as soon as possible. They may be referred to a specialist for a scan or further tests. The earlier a brain tumour is diagnosed, the better the prognosis for the patient.
The treatment will depend on the size, type, location, and severity of the tumour. Benign low-grade tumours (grade 1 and 2) are non-cancerous, and they are usually slow growing. Depending on the location, they may not need operating on. High grade tumours (grade 3 or 4) are more aggressive and may spread faster, and present a threat to life.
High grade tumours will usually be operated on if it is safe to do so. There are now modern methods of operating on brain tumours, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery, which are considered more accurate and safer than traditional methods of surgery.
Gamma Knife is a type of radiotherapy which, despite its name, doesn’t involve any cutting with a scalpel or traditional open surgery. It makes use of precisely targeted radiation beams from an external machine, to deliberately damage the tumour cells in the brain, while causing minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.