'Call to action': Raleigh mom who lost son works to raise awareness of Glioblastoma

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Raleigh mom who lost son works to raise awareness on Glioblastoma Day
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Raleigh mom Holly Richard uses Glioblastoma Awareness Day to help raise awareness about the disease that claimed the life of her son in 2018.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- July 20 is Glioblastoma Awareness Day, and Raleigh mom Holly Richard uses it to help raise awareness about the disease that claimed the life of her son, Derek at the age of 28 in 2018.

"I watched my son die," Richard explained. "I know thousands of people are dealing with it now. I know many many parents that have lost their children, their husbands or wives and daughters or sons to this horrific disease, and I want to raise awareness and education. We have to have a call to action. We need people to go to the members of Congress and advocate for the research needed, the funding needed for the research," Richard said.

Glioblastoma is the most common, complex, treatment-resist, and deadliest type of brain cancer. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, more than 13,400 Americans will receive a diagnosis in 2022.

With a survival rate of only 6.8 percent and only eight months, Richard says there is a lot of research that can be done.

"It came out of the blue. It throws you onto a cancer battlefield that you are just unrecognizable, and all of these years later there are only four FDA-approved drugs that are sometimes worse than the cancer itself...They don't prolong life and your life expectancy is 6-8 months and the quality of life is pretty much none," Richard said.

Richard helps to raise funds for research through her D-Rex Defenders team with Angels Among Us, a fundraiser for the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.

"There are so many families that have been devastated by this horrible disease and we can't accept that anymore," she said. "I know that the medical field is trying but they need a whole lot more help, and we have to be there to help them."

Brain tumors, including Glioblastoma, are the highest initial cost of care for any cancer group at 150,000 dollars yearly.

Richard has also written a book, One Hundred and Twenty-Six Days, The Unthinkable Journey, about her son's time from diagnosis to death. Proceeds from book sales go into advocacy work.