Family's heartbreak as dad and son both diagnosed with brain tumours
A family has been left devastated after a father and his young son were both diagnosed with brain tumors – just months apart.
Lucy and Pete Gebruers, from Solihull, were heartbroken when doctors told them the bombshell news about seven-year-old Joshua.
He was diagnosed in January with an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a tangle of blood vessels in the brain which puts sufferers at high risk of stroke.
But as the family struggled to come to terms with the life-changing news Pete, 42, was to suffer his own devastating diagnosis.
Days before Joshua’s radiotherapy was due to begin his father suffered a seizure at the wheel after collecting his son and daughter Amelia from Sharman’s Cross Junior School.
Luckily, the children escaped without injury in the car drama. But after a further seizure Pete was admitted to Heartlands Hospital where doctors discovered the cancerous brain tumour – a grade four glioma.
Sadly, the diagnosis gave him a life expectancy of just 14 months to two years.
Distraught Lucy, 38, said: “When Joshua was diagnosed I thought my world had fallen apart.
“We were fortunate the consultant had a niece with an AVM so they gave us an insight into what it would mean for his future. But the underlying worry of a stroke will never be gone.
“Then four or five days before Joshua was due to have his radiotherapy in April, Pete had his seizure in the car.
“The diagnosis doesn’t carry a very good life expectancy. It’s tragic.’’
She added: “I had to leave Pete in intensive care to take Joshua to his treatment. My daughter Amelia was struggling as she had seen the seizure. I just wanted to cut myself in three to be with all of them.”
Amazingly, despite all their tragedy, Lucy said the family still felt “very blessed” – despite financial struggles.
“It probably sounds crazy but it could be so much worse,’’ she said.
“We’re generally positive people, we call ourselves Team G (for Gebruers).
“I do have my dark times, but you have to seize the moment, make the most of life and that’s what we intend to do.
“As soon as your start wallowing in self pity, that’s when you start to deteriorate. Particularly in Pete’s case, that’s the beginning of the end.”
Both Joshua and Pete are now undergoing radiotherapy, while the former pilot is also having chemotherapy.
Unfortunately the diagnosis meant the dad lost his medical licence, meaning he will never be able to return to flying, which has left the family struggling to make ends meet.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” added Lucy, from Willow Road.
“We cancelled our critical illness cover a couple of years ago. Financially, we’re struggling now. I have three jobs, I run the office for a company in Knowle and do the admin for its sister company. In the evenings I waitress at the Malt Shovel in Barston.
“I am exhausted but you have to do what you have to do.
“If I can keep us in this house by doing three jobs, I’ll do three jobs. If I have to do four, I have to do four.”
In the midst of the family’s despair, Amelia decided she wanted to do something positive.
The plucky eight year-old decided to organise an auction and raffle at her school to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity, and wrote a touching letter to businesses around Solihull appealing for help.
In her handwritten note, Amelia said: “Since Christmas both my little brother and my daddy have been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“We found out about Joshy when we went for an eye test and my daddy had a seizure while he was driving us in the car. It was very scary. I wanted to do something good to cancel out the sad times we’re having.”
Since the appeal for prizes, Amelia has been inundated with donations, as well as auction lots such as flying lessons and weekends away.
She is now likely to smash her original target of £3,000 to be shared between The Brain Tumour Charity, The Butterfly AVM Charity and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
And even as the family struggle financially, Lucy remains adamant that they want any money raised going to charity.
“It’s Amelia’s dream,” said Lucy, who is appealing to local celebrities to attend the event on September 19 which will also feature up to ten live music acts.