Friday, December 2, 2022

Bereaved parents help Eastenders solve a brain tumor story

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Amani Liaquat, from Luton, was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor after collapsing at home on her 22nd birthday in April 2020.

She died in Februaryat the age of 23, five days after her master’s degree in the hospital bed provided for her at home.

Her parents, Yasmin Stannard and Khuram Liaquat, were invited by Brain Tumor Research to meet Danielle Harold, the actress who plays Lola Pearce on the BBC One soap opera.

The charity, along with Macmillan Cancer Support, are working with the program to ensure the story of Lola’s brain cancer journey is told in the most realistic and sensitive way possible.

The couple also met a team of producers, researchers and screenwriters who were in the early stages of storyline development and wanted to hear about their daughter’s journey as a young woman with glioblastoma (GBM).

After standard care failed to stop her tumor from growing, Ms Liaquat’s family funded life-prolonging treatment abroad, raising more than £100,000 in 24 hours.

She also connected with Pop star Tom Parker from The Wanted after both were diagnosed with the same type of brain tumor.

Her efforts and those of the people she inspired to raise funds resulted in nearly £60,000 being donated to Brain Tumor Research, as well as £40,000 her parents donated from the remaining crowdfunding donations not used for her treatment were donated to the charity.

Ms Stannard said: “We shared Amani’s story with Danielle and the team, trying to convey all the emotions behind our journey as best we could.

“We have been impressed with EastEnders’ commitment to ensuring that the history of the brain tumor is covered in a sensitive and accurate manner.

She added: “We arrived at the BBC studios in Elstree with mixed feelings. It was exciting to get the opportunity, but we knew we were in this position only because of the loss of our beloved daughter.

“It’s bittersweet for us to be a part of this and to watch the episodes without her by our side, but despite everything we felt privileged to be even a small part of such an important story.

“We never wanted to lose a child, but if something positive can come out of our loss then it helps to soothe our wounds a little bit.”

Brain Tumor Research’s Sue Castle-Smith said:Yasmin and Khuram showed great strength as they relived painful memories of Amani’s brain tumor diagnosis and treatment for the benefit of others.

“We are extremely grateful to them for all they have done and to the EastEnders for including us in this crucial act to raise awareness of brain cancer, which kills more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other other type of cancer.

“Increased awareness is vital as we work to ensure government and larger cancer organizations invest more to improve patient outcomes and ultimately find a cure.”

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