Dying wishes

It took three months to see the specialist, who sent her for an urgent scan. A note on the referral sheet said “suspected abnormality”.

By then it was March 2011. The diagnosis was bleak: oligoastrocytoma grade 2 (on a spectrum of 1 to 4, in which 4 is the fastest-growing), and the less aggressive oligodendroglioma. Rather than a well-defined “bulb” that could possibly be surgically excised, the tumour was diffuse, with tentacles reaching into the nooks and crannies of Seales' brain.

Shirley Seales recalls how her beloved eldest child delivered the news: “She said to me, ‘You know how I always said I would look after you when you get old? Well, that’s not going to happen now.’”