'Dad left a lasting impression and many happy memories' 

John Pettyfer was just 51 years old when his life was cut short by an aggressive type of brain tumour called a glioblastoma multiforme. His daughter Clare tells his story.

"We first realised Dad was ill on the evening of August 2nd 2010, when he had a series of severe fits. He was taken to The Royal County Hospital in Winchester, where he was treated for an infection for six weeks and was put on anti-seizure drugs and other drugs to control the infection.

"Later, when he appeared to be no better, Dad was sent to Southampton General for a scan, and it was discovered that, in fact, he had a grade IV glioblastoma multiforme.

"Surgeons removed as much of the tumour as possible and Dad started months of radio and chemotherapy. I hated watching Dad suffer in so much pain, but we kept his spirits high. He had been told by his surgeon at the time that he was terminal, but after the operation to remove the tumour he came round, saying he would now start to get better, and we kept the same attitude.

"During his treatment, Dad charmed the hospital staff who treated him on a daily basis over the ensuing months. He astonished them with his bravado and cavalier attitude to it all. He would put them at ease with his anecdotes and stories, refusing to discuss the latest treatment he was on, saying “Let’s talk about horses, not this. Do what you have to do – I have to get back to work. My boys are waiting for me.

"They adored him and, like everyone whose lives he touched, Dad left a lasting impression and many happy memories of many happy times.

"He became ill again in June 2011 and a scan revealed the tumour had returned. When he was told this, he then knew and understood he was going to leave us – it was such a difficult time for my whole family.

"The last few days of his life were a tribute to him. As a friend remarked – “it showed the magnitude of the man – the bravery it took to mask his illness, to still be venturing outside, encouraging and helping the family run his business and overseeing the care of his horses, when he only had days to live.

"My Dad died in the early hours of Monday 25th July 2011. The whole family was aware that an eerie silence had fallen, that there was no dawn chorus, not one cockerel crowed … And when I went out to tend his animals, my Dad’s favourite cockerel was dead, and the single ferret he owned was missing from her cage. We like to think he took them with him.

"Life sometimes makes no sense and most certainly not in this case. My Dad was far too young to go at just 51 years old. But Dad, you were never beaten! We believe you just had somewhere else you needed to be."

This case history was provided by Brain Tumour Research.


Page last reviewed: 19/03/2015

Next review due: 19/03/2017