That first operation in March 2007 removed 95 per cent of the tumour, but some of it was too near the brain stem and the surgeons feared causing lasting damage if they probed any further.
A few weeks later, Ben started a six-month course of chemotherapy to shrink the remaining tumour.
“He coped very well,” says Nicky. “He would have a week of intense chemotherapy and then three weeks off, but he was in and out of hospital with infections all the time, as well as for MRI scans to see if the tumour was shrinking.”
By the end of the treatment, the tumour had disappeared completely and the Halfords were overjoyed. But, clever though they are, MRI scans can’t pick up individual cancer cells.
Ben finished his treatment in September 2007, but a routine scan that December brought devastating news – a fingernail-sized tumour had reappeared, this time on the right temporal lobe of his brain.
It was just before Christmas when Ben underwent surgery again. The doctors were sure they’d got the entire tumour this time, but to be on the safe side, Ben – now with titanium plates permanently inserted in his skull – had another three weeks of chemotherapy and then six weeks of radiotherapy.