A Southwick student has taken on an important charity role after the death of her grandfather from a brain tumour changed her chosen career path.
Amie Sutton, 21, has become a young ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity, seven years after Reg Fitch died from a highly-aggressive cancer.
Her bereavement as a teenager led her to a degree in biomedical science and she is about to enter the final year of her masters at the University of Sussex.
Amie said: “My granddad passed away when I was 14 from a glioblastoma. I was never really interested in science until then and I didn’t really understand what was going on.
“I saw him change a lot, especially personality-wise, which was really sad. However, this moment in my life changed my path.”
As a 16-year-old student at The Shoreham Academy, Amie was given a work placement in a laboratory run by Dr David Michod, who specialises in research into brain tumours at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, having applied successfully through The Brain Tumour Charity.
The time she spent in the laboratory convinced her she wanted to aim for a career in the same field, either as a researcher or with an organisation which funds research into brain tumours around the world.
As a young ambassador, she is determined to help other young people in situations like hers.
Amie said: “I’d like to play a part in making sure they’re able to understand what’s going on if someone close to them is diagnosed with a brain tumour. Not in every detail but at least in simple terms so that they are more prepared.”
She and her family struggled to understand how someone as fit and healthy as her 64-year-old grandfather could succumbed to a brain tumour with no effective treatment options. Reg was diagnosed in July 2011 and died less than 12 months later.
Amie said: “It was so quick. We’re a really close family and we wanted to go on a last holiday together but that wasn’t possible because of how quickly he died.
“I want to help other people who have had similar experiences and even inspire younger people who can then in their future make a difference, too.
“I want to give back something to the community, which especially helped my mum during this time, and to be able to support others during tough times, too.”
Young Ambassadors are an integral part of the charity’s work, helping to raise awareness of brain tumours. The two-year programme is for adults aged 18 to 25 and there is currently a team of 20, along with a team of mentors.
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive, said: “We’re proud to have Amie on board as one of our young ambassadors. Too many families like hers are changed for ever by a brain tumour diagnosis.
“Amie’s determination to help find a way to end the devastation caused by the disease, both through her role as a Young Ambassador and through her future career, is an inspiration to all of us here at The Brain Tumour Charity.”