Essex dad diagnosed with incurable cancer days after son’s serious …

An Essex man and his family are raising money for medical treatment after he was diagnosed with “the cruellest form of cancer” just a few days after his son was involved in a serious crash. John Greengrass, 68, from Ingatestone was diagnosed with glioblastoma, or GBM, in October.

GBM is a malignant and terminal brain tumour with an average survival time of 12-18 months, according to The Brain Tumour Charity. Only 25 percent of patients survive more than one year, and only 5pc of patients survive more than five years.

But there have been some stories of successful treatment of the disease, so John and his family are doing everything they can to give John the best chances of survival. They have found a number of innovative treatments that have proven effective but are not available on the NHS.

The problem is the treatments are expensive, and need to be started as quickly as possible. John’s daughter, who chose not to be named, said: “Time is running out. We really need the money before Christmas.”

It all started very recently, in late September of this year. When John was pushing his mother-in-law’s wheelchair along the promenade of Bournemouth Beach, his wife Susan noticed he was dragging his left foot across the sand.

The day before he was behind the wheel of a car and, feeling not quite right, had to stop driving. John said: “I wasn’t myself. I can’t really explain it, my level of awareness was just reduced and I wasn’t driving as safely as I normally would.”

Tragically, just days before, John and Susan's son Michael and his girlfriend were involved in a serious road accident, where Michael's girlfriend was hospitalised. Susan said: “You explain these things away after you’ve had a traumatic experience. But what was really happening at this point was his brain was swelling.”

After a trip to A&E, John had a CT, which revealed a mass on his right frontal lobe. He then had an MRI and, a few days later, a video call with a neurosurgeon who told him: “You have a glioblastoma, it's grade four, it’s incurable.”

John’s daughter, who chose not to be named, said: “When you have GBM, it eats away at your brain. You lose your mobility, your personality changes, you lose yourself. It’s the cruellest form of cancer.

“And my parents are very interdependent - they don’t do very well without each other. It’s devastating and it's hard to imagine it’s actually happening to us.”

As well as raising money for the treatment, the Greengrasses are also trying to raise awareness about GBM. They are pushing for the passing of the Brain Tumour Bill, sponsored by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, whose sister Margaret died of GBM.

John’s daughter said: “Mum and Dad have worked really hard all their lives, they saved up expecting to have a long retirement, he’s always looked after his health and he expected to be around for another twenty or so years because his parents lived until they were 90. If my brother or I have children, there’s a chance he will never see them.”

John said he had plans for his retirement that he now won’t be able to fulfil: “I’m learning French. My father in his retirement travelled extensively through France and I always wanted to do something similar. He was there during the war, and his father was there during the first world war.”

Susan added: “He wanted to walk in his father’s footsteps and see the war graves. That won’t happen now.”

You can donate to their fundraiser here[3].


  1. ^ Cheeky Chelmsford care home resident, 103, says the secret to a long and happy life is 'keeping a toyboy nearby' (
  2. ^ Chelmsford man who was given 6 months to live due to terminal cancer diagnosis was initially told he had an infection (
  3. ^ here (