Extra funding for research into brain tumours has been called for by a woman who helped to found a charity in memory of her sister.
Hayley Spano has been a driving force behind Red Wellies, the Lisa Wiles Brain Tumour Support Fund, since it started in 2011 but is now stepping down to live in Florida with her American air force husband Freddy and daughter Lilly, 14.
Red Wellies was founded in the months after Lisa’s death in October 2011 to raise awareness of brain tumours and money for research.
Hayley was instrumental in forming Red Wellies, which is the Lynn News charity of the year, and attracting its actress patrons, Caroline Quentin and Lesley Dunlop.
She is now calling on the Government to boost its support for research.
Hayley said: “Brain tumour research is back in the 1960s.
“People need to be more aware that brain tumours are a cancer and 0.7 per cent of cancer funding goes to brain tumours.
“The average life expectancy for someone with a high grade tumour is 14 to 16 months with surgery. If that’s not an option it is three to four months.
“Lisa started fundraising before she died, knowing that nothing was going to help her. She knew brain tumours were under-funded and that there is no cure. She was thinking of others and we have picked up where she left off.
“I would like the Government to take notice and put money into the funding of research into rare cancers such as brain tumours.”
With an 18-month age gap, Lisa and her “little big sister” shared a close bond which was not affected when Hayley lived abroad.
The close-knit family was dealt a blow in 2010 with Lisa’s diagnosis.
Hayley and her family, who were based in Germany, were able to spend some treasured time together before Lisa’s death after the American Air Force granted a humanitarian transfer to Lakenheath.
Freddy, who is a senior master sergeant, was also flown home from his posting in Afghanistan 40 days early.
Hayley said: “Lisa was really brave. When she found out, she said she wasn’t really frightened for herself but was thinking about the rest of us.
“She was thoughtful and kind.
“Lisa kept her sense of humour all the way through.”
It was during this period that Hayley was searching the internet for a cure and fears many desperate families may be duped.
She said: “Because brain tumour research is so poorly funded, some people buy fake remedies and cures. People buy into this as they are so desperate.
“I am hoping to save families from being duped.”
Hayley, who will be joining art college, hopes to see the charity grow.
She said: “I think we have got a long way to go in getting people to donate and more studies into brain tumours.”
The Blackborough End Jubilee Committee is supporting the charity with a barbecue at Manor Farm on Saturday, August 31.
Tickets cost £7, which includes a main course and a sweet, and are available from Lisa and Hayley’s father, Mervyn Wiles, on 01553 841015.