World-renowned south Essex chef reveals impact of tumour-induced stroke

Determined - John Lawson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014 <i>(Image: Brain Tumour Research)</i>
Determined - John Lawson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014 (Image: Brain Tumour Research)

A WORLD-RENOWNED chef was left “unable to make a cup of tea” after a tumour-induced stroke left him paralysed on the left side of his body.

John Lawson, 40, has worked with some of the world’s best-known chefs, including Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay – and was even a private chef for the Beckhams.

Now, he provides Michelin-standard food at Food by John Lawson in Leigh Road, Leigh, which he has run for the last five years.

Speaking out last week, he reveakled how after 18 months of running his own restaurant ‘No 8’ in Melbourne, Australia, John began to experience blackouts and dizziness in December 2014.

Assuming it was just bouts of normal headaches for six months, he one day woke up having a seizure – leaving him unable to speak or use the left hand side of his body.

The renowned chef is now calling on people to back a petition by Brain Tumour Research calling on the Government to raise funding for research into the condition.

John, from Wickford, said: “I had assumed the headaches and midconversation blackouts I was getting were due to stress and never considered having them investigated.

“I thought they were the reality of my life and just got on with it until I woke having a seizure about six months later.

“I remember being confused over hearing lots of voices and was rushed to hospital where I was given the shock news I had an ‘abnormal growth’ in my brain.

“I assumed having a brain tumour meant I was going to die and wondered how long I had left to live.”

John was diagnosed with a grade 2 oligodendroglioma, which caused his stroke.

The stroke left him unable to perform basic tasks – giving him brain damage that affected his memory and left the left side of his body paralysed.

Amazingly though, thanks to months of intensive rehabilitation, he has since recovered his speech and movement.

He later had a craniotomy, during which more than 90 per cent of his tumour was removed.

Thankfully since the surgery, none of his scans have shown any signs of recurrence of the tumour.

He said: “I had to complete a taste test and make a cup of tea, neither of which I could do at first.

“I’d gone from running a kitchen with 60 chefs to failing a taste test and not being able to coordinate the steps needed to make a cup of tea.”

John has now made a full recovery and runs his owns restaurant.

He is supporting Brain Tumour Research in their effort to force a Parliamentary debate on funding for research into brain tumours by securing 100,000 signatures for their petition.

John said: “I’m a big advocate of the need for greater investment in brain tumour research.

“We need to bring the survival rates for brain tumour patients in line with that of other cancers, like breast cancer, which has received a much higher level of investment to get it to where it is today.

“I would urge everyone to sign this petition. It only takes a minute and could save the life of someone you love.”

The charity is also calling on the Government to ring-fence £110million of current and new funding to kick start an increase in the national investment in brain tumour research to £35million a year by 2028.

You can sign the petition at