The heartbroken family and friends of a loving father-of-three who passed away from a brain tumour, just two months after being diagnosed, are raising money to help find a cure for the devastating illness.
When Lee Patterson began to feel unwell and slurring his words after the August bank holiday weekend last year, his partner Kathy just thought that he was suffering from a hangover.
After his condition failed to get better, Kathy and Lee’s parents took him to A&E where a CT scan revealed he had a severe brain tumour the size of a fist called a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
He and his family were told the horrific news that the tumour was inoperable with no alternative treatments available.
The 51-year-old died on November 10, just seven weeks after his diagnosis with Kathy and their boys William, 24, Thomas, 22 and Michael, 21, by his side.
Kathy, a higher level teaching assistant at Whitley Lodge First School in Whitley Bay, said: “We couldn’t believe it when Lee got his diagnosis.
“He was a very fit 51-year-old man. He ate healthily, didn’t smoke and only drank socially. He wasn’t overweight; he ran, cycled and went to the gym.
“He was always out walking and looked after himself. It seemed so unjust and so cruel.
“Dealing with this awful situation during the Covid-19 pandemic made it all the more horrendous.
“After a bleed on the brain, Lee was brain-damaged and remained unresponsive most of the time he was on the ward but he outlived his initial prognosis, which was just 48 hours.
“Lee was a wonderful husband and father, who brought so much joy to all of our lives.
“He loved life and lived it to the full. Losing him is just heartbreaking.”
Friends and family are now fundraising in Lee’s memory to help find a cure for this devastating disease.
In March, Kathy and her colleagues, along with Whitley Lodge First School pupils, took part in Wear a Hat Day.
Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College have also held their own fundraising events and are planning to establish a new student award in his honour.
Kathy and their sons were recently joined by a group of 18 relatives and friends walking Hadrian’s Wall. The participants ranged in age from six to 74 and managed to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
Kathy said: “The generosity of family, friends and colleagues, as well as complete strangers, has been really overwhelming and we are so grateful.
“As we were proudly wearing bright pink Brain Tumour Research branded t-shirts on the walk, we were frequently stopped by other hikers, who kindly donated when they heard about Lee’s story.
“It was astounding to learn that so many of them had also been affected by this terrible disease.
“We set out to raise £2,740 – the equivalent amount it costs to fund a day of research at one of the charity’s Centres of Excellence – but our fundraising total now stands at more than £4,600.
“Overall, we have raised £11,000 in Lee’s name and we have no plans to stop any time soon.”
The Pattersons’ fundraising will continue next month when Whitley Bay Golf Club, where Lee was a member for 15 years, holds a competition in his honour.
A glitzy trophy for the winner has been specially commissioned, to include the Brain Tumour Research logo and a crystal golf ball.
The tournament, which is open to all male members on a seven-day membership, is taking place on September 4 and will be followed by a race night with up to 120 people in the clubhouse.
Ally Hall, men’s captain at the golf club, said: “The club has created five ‘brain tumour bunkers’ next to the sixth hole, which are dedicated to the charity.
“Any golfer landing in one of the bunkers is encouraged to pay a pound at the end of the round. I played golf with Lee numerous times and it was always a pleasure to be in his company.
“Lee had a really dry sense of humour. He was very sociable and fun to be around.
“He had a lot of close friends at the golf club and we are delighted to be able to remember him, while raising money and awareness for such an important cause.”
Brain tumours 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 the devastating disease.
Joe Woollcott, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are so grateful to Kathy and her family for continuing to fundraise for Brain Tumour Research, in memory of Lee.
“It’s great to see a community come together to do such good in the face of adversity and we thank all those involved in the Hadrian’s Wall walk and the forthcoming golf competition and race night.
“Lee’s tragic story reminds us that brains tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any time. We are committed to finding a cure for this awful disease, to help prevent more families like the Pattersons from being ripped apart in this way.”
To make a donation to Brain Tumour Research via Kathy’s fundraising page, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/WalkthewallforLee.
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