Dad who was told to 'breathe into a paper bag' later died of brain tumour


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May 31, 2023

Dad who was told to 'breathe into a paper bag' later died of brain tumour

Keith, 21, was originally diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks Keep up to

Keith, 21, was originally diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks

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A man who died of brain cancer was misdiagnosed with anxiety and told to "breathe into a paper bag". Keith Evans was 21 when he collapsed during a suspected panic attack in February 2010.

He later developed painful headaches and was given tools to manage his anxiety. Weeks later during a visit to his GP, he was referred for an MRI scan where he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma - a fast-growing and aggressive brain tumour.

Despite being given six months to live, Keith survived five-and-half years. He died aged 27 in October 2015.

Keith's mum, Lorraine, said: "We felt like paranoid parents. Although at the time he was interviewing for a new job, we thought this could have caused some unrest but being told he was having panic attacks seemed odd.

"After multiple occasions where we called 999 we were told the same thing and Keith was given ways to manage his anxiety; including breathing into a paper bag."

Throughout his cancer battle, he raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity whilst undergoing radiotherapy and life-long chemotherapy treatment. Lorraine added: "Keith wanted to be one of the 5% of GBM patients who survive more than five years.

"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."

This weekend, dozens of cyclists are expected to take part in the final bike ride in memory of the father-of-one who died of brain cancer in October 2015, raising funds for Brain Tumour Research. The final ‘Ride on Keith’ event will take place this Saturday Since its inception the event has raised more than £7,500 for Brain Tumour Research.

Amongst the riders will be Keith's widow, Harriet Evans and their son, 10-year-old Joel, who was just one when Keith died. The 25, 55 and five-mile children's friendly cycle ride will set off from Makins Fishery on Bazzard Road at 8:30am.

Lorraine said: "For over a decade, we’ve helped to raise the profile of brain tumours and worked towards driving more funding to find a cure for the disease, with Keith at the helm of the events when he was alive. He achieved so much in the five-and-half-years he survived 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 ten-day period - all during treatment.

"Since his death, the event has been a fantastic way to remember him and this year we hope to create lasting memories whilst raising money for Brain Tumour Research. Although this is the last event of its kind, we will continue to work with the charity to raise awareness for more research into the disease."

One in three people know someone affected by a brain tumour. They kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours since records began in 2002.

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: "We’re grateful to Keith's family for sharing his story.

"It's wonderful to hear of everything Keith achieved after receiving a shocking diagnosis. His story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate, and they can affect anyone and any age.

"If we are to understand the complexity of each diagnosis, we need more funding to research the disease."