Boston mother to cycle through Europe in support of her son with terminal brain cancer

Joshua Cullen has defied the odds after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer two years ago.
Magdi Cullen with her son Joshua.Magdi Cullen with her son Joshua.
Magdi Cullen with her son Joshua.

A Boston woman is planning to cycle more than 2,000km through Europe in support of her son who has a terminal brain tumour.

Joshua, 26, was diagnosed with a grade 4 (high-grade) glioblastoma (GBM) on Christmas Eve 2020 and was told he had just 12-18 months to live.

He is now "thriving” and his mum, Magdi Cullen, 47, will fulfil her childhood dream of cycling from the Czech Republic, where she was born, to her home in Boston to raise vital funds for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Joshua CullenJoshua Cullen
Joshua Cullen

Magdi said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to raise awareness and much-needed money.

"You wouldn’t wish such a devastating diagnosis on your worst enemy; it affects so many people, not just Josh but everyone around him. It has changed my perspective on so many things - the most important thing is supporting Josh and helping him through it.”

She will set off from Ratíškovice, near the Slovakia/Austria border where she grew up on June 7 and cycle through Austria, Germany, Belgium and France before crossing the Channel to the UK. She hopes to complete this mammoth challenge within just three weeks.

On December 21, 2020, Joshua was rushed to Queens Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham after suffering a seizure at work. CT and MRI scans revealed he had a primary brain tumour in his parietal lobe.

He said: “I was in complete shock. My family came over to see me and we did our best to support one another and tried to enjoy Christmas, despite the terrible news we’d received.”

Joshua underwent a craniotomy to debulk the tumour on 7 January 2021. Surgeons managed to remove around 90% of it. He also had six weeks of radiotherapy, concurrent chemotherapy and a further six months of higher dose chemotherapy.

He said: “I’m just thankful that I’m still here. Brain Tumour Research and the NHS have been amazing and so supportive, I can’t thank them enough.”

After his diagnosis and treatment, Joshua needed to stop working but he is currently searching for a new job. His most recent scan in April 2023 was stable.

Magdi said: “Waiting for the scan results is always so stressful so when we found out I just broke down in tears from sheer relief. To look at Josh, you would never know he had anything wrong because he looks so well.

“This challenge is very important to me because more money is needed to research this devastating disease. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet the Government funding is so little.”

Joshua said: “I’m absolutely speechless Mum is doing such an epic bike ride; I’m incredibly proud of her. More people need to be made aware of how serious brain tumours are and research is vital to help find a cure.”

Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to Magdi for taking on this amazing cycling challenge; we wish her the very best of luck. It’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Joshua who are forced to fight this awful disease.”

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumour research.

To donate to Magdi’s fundraising page, visit her JustGiving page.

Related topics: