Former Brighton drag queen shares story in new Brain Tumour Research campaign

A former Brighton drag queen has shared his story of living with a brain tumour for a new charity campaign.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 12:53 pm
Eddie Ruggiero was forging a career as a drag queen when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Right: Eddie took this self-portrait after his surgery
Eddie Ruggiero was forging a career as a drag queen when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Right: Eddie took this self-portrait after his surgery

Eddie Ruggiero stars in Stop the Devastation, a new campaign launched by Brain Tumour Research which raises awareness of brain tumours and exposes the history of underfunding for research into the disease.

The 33-year-old was living in Brighton and forging a career as a drag queen when he collapsed and was diagnosed with a high-grade anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumour in 2017.

At the age of 29, he was given a prognosis of three to five years – and now feels he is living on borrowed time.

Eddie underwent surgery and follow-up treatment, before a life-threatening infection meant the removal of part of his skull.

He chose not to continue with gruelling chemotherapy.

Eddie said: “The treatment made me so ill and I can’t understand why in this age of modern medicine the treatment options available for people like me are so barbaric, more barbaric than the disease itself.

“I want to have the best quality of life for whatever time I have left.

“I have been offered reconstructive surgery but the truth is, at the moment, I would rather live with a big dent in my skull than go through another operation.

“It’s certainly a talking point and if I can use it to raise awareness of how things are for patients like me that is a positive thing.”

Four years on from his diagnosis, Eddie is supporting Brain Tumour Research alongside his mum Julie Ruggiero.

Julie, 65, said: “Edward has told me he isn’t afraid of dying but I am terrified to think about life without him.

“It seems so unfair that brain tumours kill more people under 40 than any other cancer.

“How can it be that there are so few treatments?

“They cut them out with surgery, burn them with radiation and then poison them with chemotherapy.

“Underneath all of this there is a human being like my son. The treatment is brutal and that is so, so unfair.”

In sharing his story, Eddie is helping to raise awareness of the fact that brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.

Despite this, historically, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

And, tragically, 88 per cent of those diagnosed die within five years.

The new campaign features outdoor advertising, a short video and a social media campaign.

Hugh Adams, a spokesman for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Stop the Devastation lays bare the powerful and painful truth about brain tumours – they are indiscriminate, they can affect anyone at any age, there is no cure and for many, sadly, there is little or no hope.

“We are extremely grateful to Eddie for opening up on camera to star in the campaign.

“By sharing his moving story, he is helping us raise awareness and to drive change.

“Brain Tumour Research is determined to make progress by creating awareness of the horrifying statistics, by funding research at its Centres of Excellence and through its continued lobbying of the Government and the larger cancer charities to increase the national spend.”

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