Young man's panic attacks turned out to be fatal cancer

Keith Evans
-Credit: (Image: Supplied)

When Keith Evans died in 2015, his parents were devastated. But amid deep heartbreak, they have fought on.

Bulkington man Keith Evans's death at 27 after a battle with an aggressive brain tumour left them devastated. But now the grieving parents have set up an annual charity event in his memory to help fund cancer research.

Keith was 21 when he collapsed during a suspected panic attack. He later developed painful headaches and was given tools to manage “his anxiety”.

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But weeks later, during a GP visit, Keith was referred for an MRI scan and was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM). He battled the disease for five and a half years until he died in 2015.

His mother Lorraine said her son wanted to be one of the 5% of GBM patients who survive more than five years. She said: “He made dramatic changes to his lifestyle and took up cycling as he was no longer allowed to drive. He made a name for himself within the cycling community.

“A favourite event which came about inspired by his journey was called Ride on Keith. He got to take part in the event before coming off his bike due to a seizure in 2015. Soon his mobility deteriorated, and a scan showed the tumour had returned.”

Keith with his dad, also named Keith
Keith with his dad, also named Keith -Credit:Supplied

Keith raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity, including cycling 275 miles from London to Paris and covering the 1,000-mile route from Land’s End to John O’Groats over a 10-day period – all while undergoing gruelling treatment.

After losing their son, his parents set up a cycling event known as Ride on Keith which has raised almost £12,500 for Brain Tumour Research. Ride on Keith was held for the final time in June 2023 and his widow Harriet Evans and their son, Joel (who was aged 10, but just a year old when his father died) both took part.

His father, also named Keith, said he hoped the money donated would change lives and “make a difference for people diagnosed with a brain tumour in the future.” Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer and more men under 70 than prostate cancer.

Mum Lorraine and dad Keith
Mum Lorraine and dad Keith

Brain Tumour Research community development manager Louise Aubrey expressed gratitude at the money the family had raised and outlined how severe brain tumours diagnoses could be. “Just 12% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 54% across all cancers.

“Yet, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002. This has to change.” The charity is also the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

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