The TV presenter Sarah Beeny has spoken about her journey through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in a new documentary. She also revealed that her mother died from cancer aged just 39, after cancerous cells spread to her brain. Sarah was just 10 years old at the time.
Tragedy struck twice when Sarah’s stepmother died of brain tumour in 2012. Sarah herself was then diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022, but fortunately she has now been given the all-clear after undergoing a double mastectomy, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.
Sarah has spoken to The Guardian newspaper about her experience. She said: “If I told this story, there might be loads of people who wouldn’t be so scared. Because living with the fear of cancer is really hard. It’s disproportionate to the risk. I’m not going to say that all cancer is the same, breast cancer is completely different.
She also reflected on how different her own experience has been compared with her mother’s. She said: “But I do know that with all cancer treatment, we can base our fears largely on something that happened 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, to someone we loved.”
Devastatingly, Sarah learned from oncologists when making the documentary that her mother would have survived with modern cancer treatments. Her family history has motivated Sarah to support the cause of brain tumour research, which has traditionally been an underfunded area of cancer research in the UK.
Hugh Adams of the charity Brain Tumour Research said: “Sarah became involved with us more than a decade ago.”
He added: “Her support was influenced by her mother’s breast cancer which metastasised to her brain, and we know that the steps and improvements that have been made to prevent this cancer progression in Sarah’s case was something she was keen to explore in the film.”
“We have been really grateful that, even during the height of her treatment, Sarah found time to support our campaigns and her photographs during her treatment have been an inspiration to many experiencing hair loss following chemotherapy.”
What is a metastatic brain tumour?
A metastatic brain tumour occurs when cancer spreads from elsewhere in the body, and they are also known as secondary brain tumours. The condition most occurs after a diagnosis of breast, lung, skin, colon, kidney, or thyroid gland cancer.
Metastatic brain tumours are up to five times more prevalent than primary brain tumours which originate in the brain. The symptoms are similar to those of other types of brain tumour, although they will vary depending on where the tumour is growing in the brain.
Common symptoms include headaches, feeling dizzy, fits or seizures, confusion, problems with memory and language, and numbness on one side of the body. There is currently no cure for secondary brain tumours, but they can be treated and managed with surgery, steroids, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy.
Brain tumours can be treated by Mr Andrew McAvoy, a consultant neurosurgeon at Queen Square Radiosurgery Centre, Amethyst Radiotherapy UK.