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Friday 3rd September 2021

Let's SHIFT This!

— Grow Wilder
Fundraiser for Sarah Pugh
price: Headfirst Tickets


A magical evening of music, food, storytelling, poetry, workshops and Open Mic to raise funds for Sarah Pugh's cancer treatment.
Come and show your support for Sarah and her son - share wonderful food with friends, participate in a selection of exciting arts and craft workshops, listen to captivating storytelling, dance to funky live music and DJs, take part in the open mic, and be a part of a community response to provide life-saving cancer treatment for our amazing friend Sarah Pugh.



In November 2020, Sarah was diagnosed with a life-threatening grade 4 glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. Even after surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy the tumour is likely to grow within months. We hope to access more progressive techniques in Germany that may help prolong Sarah's life and give her a few more years with her son.

Sarah’s been one of Bristol's leading environmental and community organisers and teachers for over twenty years, designing and delivering hundreds of life-changing courses. She is one of the funniest and loveliest human beings you’ll ever meet - full of positive energy. Her inspiring, down to earth teaching has catalysed environmental action, community-building and positive culture change. With pioneering spirit, she initiated the Bristol Permaculture Group, Transition Bristol and Shift Bristol - leading its much loved Practical Sustainability Course. Most importantly, Sarah is mum to a brave and wonderful 12 year old son, whom she’s brought up single-handed. She says it’s hard to know which is more challenging - having a brain tumour or getting a 12 year old to do his homework!

As some of you will know, last year, Sarah stepped out of co-ordinating Shift Bristol and started teaching online to make space to write her long-awaited book. The sudden onset of a life-threatening grade 4 glioblastoma brain tumour wasn’t exactly in the plan. The tumour severely affected her brain’s language centre and she needed urgent surgery. Sarah chose to have a waking craniotomy neurosurgery, so she was conscious and cracking jokes during the op. Although the surgery went well and resulted in an impressive 100% removal of the original tumour the glioblastoma will always re-seed into neighbouring cells, developing into a new tumour.

Sarah has since undergone radiotherapy and several months of chemotherapy. So far she’s responded well, despite the ongoing fatigue. She’s radically adapted her diet and lifestyle with amazing help from herbalists, integrative practitioners and medical consultants, Vitamin, herbal and mushroom supplements are helping boost her immune system and combat side effects. She has slowly regained her ‘mum powers’ and is keeping the family together. She has had enormous support from friends, family and neighbours who've helped cook, walk the dog, and do shopping. They even helped move house. Doorstep visits and phone calls kept her spirits up through hair loss, fatigue and the shock and grief that comes with such a brutal re-assessment of life goals. Two amazing friends moved in temporarily to help look after the boy and the dog. However, the difficult truth is, despite lifestyle changes, and all the treatments, the prognosis for glioblastomas is bleak. At some point the tumour will regrow and possibly spread to other parts of the brain.

The 'median survival time' is devastatingly short – just 14-16 months. Only 25% of glioblastoma patients survive more than one year; 5% of patients survive for more than five years with only a tiny handful making it much beyond that. Survival rates here are below many other countries, and progressive treatments used elsewhere are unavailable. In the UK there is nothing beyond the standard treatments of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy.

The oncologists have often told Sarah that they don’t want to give her ‘false hope’. She’s had words with them about that! Whilst fully accepting that an untimely death is incredibly likely, she’s actively hoping to at least see her son through school. She's doing her best with what's in front of her.

After much research and a recommendation from several people, including a long-term survivor, Sarah is keen to try immunotherapy, a progressive treatment that has shown very promising results. Germany is the nearest country to offer this, and it is widely used in the USA and other EU countries. The treatment creates a personalised vaccine made from the patient’s own immune cells to target and kill the cancer. Sarah likens this to sending her white blood cells to ninja training school and she loves the idea of her own system being instrumental in the fight. The vaccine is then administered at regular intervals over the next couple of years. While ultimately there is no ‘cure’, the treatment has shown significant increases in survival rates.

All of Sarah’s work has been for passion and conviction, not for financial gain, so she isn’t in a position to afford this treatment. So we, her community, friends and family want to make sure she gets to Germany and has every weapon in her armoury to fight this thing off for as long as possible. Will you join us?

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Let's SHIFT This! at Grow Wilder in Bristol
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