Memory Wall

Colin Burrows

49 Years Old

Colin was my husband and Dad to Ed, 17 and Jo, 14 when he died of a brain tumour at the age of 49.

Colin had been suffering from increasingly severe headaches for approximately 6 months. He also felt cold all the time and was sensitive to fluorescent lights. In September 2008, after losing some of his peripheral vision, he had an emergency MRI scan and was finally diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had an operation a few days later where about 95% of the tumour was removed. A week later we were told that it was a glioblastoma multiforme and that it was incurable. A few weeks after that Colin started chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

Colin returned to work as an electronics engineer in June 2009 and remained well for approximately 10 months. Then while we were on holiday in the Lake District in April 2010 Colin became much more tired than normal. He had a scan and we were told that the tumour had returned. In May he was operated on again. This time he was offered a fairly new treatment where chemo impregnated Glidal Strips were implanted during the operation. After about 6 weeks Colin’s head was still swollen with fluid which was leaking. Two more operations followed, first to remove what was left of the Glidal Strips and then to insert a drain. Unfortunately the wound still did not heal so he had a further operation to put in a shunt valve to drain the fluid away from his brain.

Colin did go back to work but he was not really able to do his job. However his employers were brilliant and let him go into work for a couple of hours a day which was great for Colin as it gave him a sense of purpose to continue fighting.

The tumour continued to grow and Colin had a different sort of chemo this time, given intravenously. During this time he developed blood clots on his lungs so I had to give him an injection every day.

In February 2011 we went to Centre Parcs where Colin developed shingles, due to his low immunity. He had put on a lot of weight because of the steroids he had to take and an existing back problem became worse so Colin started to use a wheelchair. He now needed help with his personal care, was struggling to get up and down stairs and the back pain was getting worse. An X-ray confirmed he had developed osteoporosis. We arranged to have a hospital bed at home, downstairs.

A week before Colin died we were told that a scan showed that the chemo was shrinking the tumour. That weekend Colin became very tired and his breathing sounded strange. He was admitted to hospital where I was told that he had pneumonia and only had 24-48 hours to live. He died on Wednesday 30th March 2011.

Colin was a very brave man and fought each setback supported by the family he adored. Someone said to me “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” and I take comfort in that. Colin and I were together for 23 great years, married for nearly 20 of them. We had a very happy marriage, Colin was a great husband and an amazing father and I am so thankful that I still have Ed and Jo.

Ed and Jo were aware from the start that their Dad had a brain tumour and that treatment could only control it. After the second operation I told them that their dad was going to die but we did not know when.

Colin loved life, he loved simple holidays playing on the beach with the kids, he loved family get togethers. At our last Christmas and New Year, when Colin was still able to cope with conversations and enjoy company, we were surrounded by family and friends.

After Colin was diagnosed and we were told the prognosis we continued to fight and to try to remain positive, never giving up hope that a cure might be found, even though deep down I knew it was very unlikely. Colin’s oncologist, Matt Griffin at Nottingham City Hospital, was brilliant, offering him every available treatment for his condition.

I feel that Colin’s funeral was a real celebration of his life. Everyone liked Colin, he was someone who you would truly never have heard a bad word said about. It was a tribute to his popularity that so many people attended his funeral and came back to the pub afterwards. The celebration of his life went on until 2 o’clock the following morning which Colin would have loved.