A Bristol dad has discovered he has a deadly brain tumour after visiting an optician for a routine check-up.
Rob Tillen, 53, went to Specsavers for an eye test in August after experiencing migraines and problems with his vision. After noticing something was not right, the optician sent him straight to A&E.
The former music producer from Thornbury has now been given 12 to 18 months to live after being treated for a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme discovered by doctors in August 2021.
Speaking of the shock diagnosis, Annabel Jarvis, Rob’s fiancée, said: “Rob was out running one day in June when suddenly he felt like his vision had ‘shifted’ to one side.
“By the end of July, his vision was getting worse and one day in August, he had his first ever migraine, which lasted a whole day.”
Rob went to the Thornbury branch of Specsavers for an eye test on August 11, where the optician spotted something behind his eye and he sent him straight to A&E at Southmead Hospital.
Just 11 days after the initial diagnosis, Rob underwent a craniotomy procedure during which his surgeon removed at least 98 per cent of the tumour.
Rob’s family received a further devasting diagnosis on September 2 that his tumour was a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme, meaning it is very likely to grow back.
After Rob asked the doctors about his life expectancy, Annabel said: “The surgeon delivered the grim news that it was approximately 15 months. We were devastated."
In November, Rob completed a six-week course of radiotherapy with concurrent chemotherapy at Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI).
He is on high-dose chemotherapy to try to delay the inevitable regrowth of his incurable tumour.
Rob, who is dad to 16-year-old Teddy, is due to marry Annabel in the summer. She has started a fundraising campaign for overseas treatment in Germany.
Annabel will undertake the challenge of walking 500 miles over six weeks to raise money, which commenced on December 11 and will finish on the last day of January.
Having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) during lockdown last year, she is battling ‘MS legs’, which often feel ‘heavy’ and she gets pins and needles, but she says “thinking of Rob and everything he’s going through gets me through it”.
She described how a clinic in Germany called CeGat offers personalised treatment, which would aim to encourage Rob’s immune system to attack the tumour.
“It comes at a huge cost,” Annabel added. “We need to raise £350,000. I’ve set up a GoFundMe page and have received £770 in donations so far, which I am very grateful for but I still have a mountain to climb.”
Historically, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours, according to data provided by Brain Tumour Research.
Mel Tiley, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said the organisation was "so sorry to learn of Rob’s diagnosis".
She added: “We, as a charity, are campaigning for more funding into brain tumour research to help find better treatments, which can be made available on the NHS.”
Donations to Rob's campaign to get private treatment to help him fight the tumour can be made on his GoFundMe page.