The guide dog of a brain tumour patient was the star of the show at a recent graduation ceremony at the University of Portsmouth.
Shannon Moore, 22, who lives in Aylesbury with mum Paula White and dad Trevor Moore, was diagnosed with a craniopharyngioma brain tumour in 2005, aged nine, and underwent several operations as well as radiotherapy and hormone replacement treatment. She is certified blind and relies on a long cane and her faithful Labrador guide dog, Indy, to get about.
On Tuesday 16 July, Shannon dressed Indy in a gown and mortarboard to accompany her to her graduation ceremony where she was awarded her degree in Music & Sound Technology.
Shannon said: “Indy enjoyed all the attention and loved posing for photographs, although he didn’t want to wear the mortarboard for long! He has been such a help to me at uni and sat through all my lectures – he almost deserved to be awarded a degree himself!”
Shannon, who volunteers with the charity Brain Tumour Research, both in Portsmouth and in Milton Keynes, is now looking to find work as a live sound engineer or possibly continue her studies at Portsmouth with a Masters.
Lorraine White, Shannon’s nan, who is also a dedicated volunteer for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Shannon’s hearing has become much more acute to compensate for her loss of sight, and that has really helped her succeed in sound technology. She is so hard-working and conscientious when we work together for the charity. I really hope that Shannon’s talent is recognised and she gets offered a job to start her on her chosen career path.
“We were very disappointed when Shannon was unable to secure a work placement during her third year, apart from with a company which went bust before she even started. I am afraid that even though discrimination isn’t allowed, people with disabilities still have a massive disadvantage and this just isn’t right.”
Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK, including at the University of Portsmouth; it also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
Michael Thelwall, head of community fundraising for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We hope Shannon finds a fulfilling job in sound engineering. Unfortunately, we have too many examples of supporters who have struggled to return to the workplace after diagnosis.
“I would like to congratulate Shannon on her degree and wish her all the best in her dream career. Shannon’s story reminds us that 16,000 patients are diagnosed with brain tumours each year.”