Myriam Lamerton held her husband’s hand as he took his last breath and his heart stopped beating.
“He died peacefully, which was kind of beautiful in a way,” the mum says.
“When you think about death you often think it’s going to be scary and loud but James looked beautiful and healthy from the outside, which is what made it so surreal for us as a family.”
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James, 40, had been complaining about exhaustion before his shock death in November 2021.
But as a new dad, he put it down to having a newborn daughter, Layla.
He’d also been misdiagnosed as having sleep apnoea, a sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
In fact, James - a teacher and musician from the UK - had a brain tumour - a deadly grade four glioblastoma that went unnoticed for months.
Myriam, who works in the philanthropy department of a tech company, said they first thought something was wrong when James kept needing the toilet.
“James had been tired for a while but I’d put it down to us having a newborn,” she explains.
‘’When he started waking up regularly in the night to go to the toilet, I thought that was odd and encouraged him to go to the doctor to get checked out for prostate cancer, which is something his father had had.”
The tests came back clear, but after suffering from headaches, dizziness and experiencing problems with his vision, the pair went to a sleep clinic in September.
Myriam explained: “It was there we were told James had sleep apnoea and his dizziness and headaches were the result of him not sleeping enough, which seemed to make sense but between August and mid-October I took him to the doctor eight times.
“James looked dreadfully pale so I told him to go to bed and relax but seven days later he was still there.
“Every day I told him he needed to go to the hospital but he insisted on resting.
“I wish I’d done something sooner but, in truth, I know it wouldn’t have changed anything.”
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James’ condition continued to decline as he was unable to eat and experiencing severe pains in his eye.
He was swiftly given an MRI that detected his tumour shortly after - which also discovered a build-up of fluid known as hydrocephalus, which had to be drained.
James underwent surgery to debulk his tumour but suffered post-op complications and died shortly after.
Brain tumour research
Since James’s death, Myriam, 32, has been working with Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of the invisible killer.
“We need to change people’s perceptions of brain tumours and for me that means changing the narrative to make people realise that this could also happen to them and the people they know and love. We have to do more,” Myriam says.
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Whilst incredibly heart-breaking, James’ story is not unique; the pain his family are going through is, sadly, something we see time-and-time again.
“We’re trying to change that but it’s only by working together that we will be able to improve treatment option for patients and, ultimately, find a cure.
“We just hope that people sit up and pay attention because brain tumours are indiscriminate and could strike anyone of us at any time.”