Daughter’s touching tribute to Sunderland dad after he loses short battle with brain tumour aged 53

The daughter of a Sunderland man who sadly passed away last year has been left devastated after losing her selfless dad who suffered a short battle with brain cancer.

Andrew Craig Nicholas was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in 2020, following a stroke and multiple seizures which forced him to be rushed into hospital in October 2022.

After a few scans doctors identified the reason that he was suffering a bout of ill health was due to an aggressive brain tumour, which after a biopsy and routine tests proved to be terminal.

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After a few scans doctors identified the reason that he was suffering a bout of ill health was due to an aggressive brain tumour, which after a biopsy and routine tests proved to be terminal.

At the time of diagnosis, he was given just two years to live due to the severity of the tumour itself and that his condition was unfortunately un-curable.

Upon finding out about the severity of the cancer, his daughter Jessica and her family decided that they wanted to make the most of the time she had left with her father – but her father was always ‘adamant’ that he would ride it out and beat his condition.

After around six months Andrew had further tests which showed the cancer was spreading at a fast-rate – and he had two operations in an attempt to prevent the tumour spreading further. Both of which were successful at the time, but after testing just a week later from the second operation, the cancer had re-grown back to the same size it already was.

Although initially being told he had two years to live, Andrew unfortunately passed away just shy of a year later on the 29 October 2021 aged just 53.

Speaking to Chronicle Live, 31-year-old Jessica spoke of how difficult the time was for her and her family.

Andrew and his daughter Jessica
Andrew and his daughter Jessica
(Image: Jessica Nicholas)

She said: “After about six months he had further tests, and the cancer was growing at a really fast pace. He had two operations to remove it, both successful but it was a really scary time.

“Dad wasn’t in the best of health, and we didn’t know if he would make it past them, and the nurses actually said that they’ve never seen more than three removals.

“After the second removal, they did a test a week later and it had already grown back to the same size, so it was very, very aggressive.

“It turned out that we only really ended up getting a year with dad – it really wasn’t nice.”

Jessica also spoke highly of her father’s generosity and kindness throughout his life, and spoke of how his selfless personality shone through until the end of his life despite the tough hand that he was dealt.

She added: “Random people would message to say that my dad had had a massive impact on their lives, and that he sorted them out when they were younger – he just really touched people’s lives.

Cooking up a storm: Andrew cooking at a family BBQ
Cooking up a storm: Andrew cooking at a family BBQ
(Image: Jessica Nicholas)

“He was a giver, he was never a taker. Even until the end he always wanted to help people, he would never ever do things for himself.

“He was more concerned about how all of us were feeling and making sure that everyone else was alright.

“He was just an amazing person.”

Jessica now aims to raise money for a trilogy of charities close to her heart via a Gofundme, for the care they provided her father while he was going through treatment.

Andrew Craig Nicholas sporting his beloved Sunderland AFC shirt
Andrew Craig Nicholas sporting his beloved Sunderland AFC shirt
(Image: Jessica Nicholas)

Macmillan Cancer Support offer emotional, physical and financial support from diagnosis to the end of treatment for victims suffering cancer, while St Benedict’s Hospice, Ryhope, also offer free care, advice and support for patients, and their families, who have a life-limiting illness.

Daft as a Brush are also a cancer patient care organisation provide free transportation to and from both the Freeman and RVI Hospitals in Newcastle, for those undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

Their services span very far afield, with some patients coming from the likes of the Scottish Borders, North Yorkshire and West Cumbria alike.

Andrew was a man who wanted to give back to his local community so much, and his daughter has followed suit with her generosity, now endeavouring to raise vital funding so the aforementioned charities can continue to provide services to those in similar predicaments as her dad once was.

And Jessica has decided that the best way to do so is by hosting an event comprising of all of the things Andrew loved doing most.

She continued: “In honour of his life and to keep his memory alive whilst raising awareness, my family and I would like to celebrate his life by organising a gathering.

“A friendly footy game to help raise money which will go towards his chosen charities.

“Macmillan, Daft As A Brush and St Benedict’s Hospice – all of which he received incredible support and care, and made a huge difference towards the end – for us all.”

With her partner Dan being an ex-Sunderland AFC player himself, he got in touch with some of his contacts to attempt to get past and present players together for a football match, which locals can come to watch for entertainment on the day.

Jessica, her stepmam Elaine, and late father Andrew
Jessica, her stepmam Elaine, and late father Andrew
(Image: Jessica Nicholas)

Jessica added: “My partner used to play for Sunderland football club, so my stepmother was actually talking about how we can raise money for his charities – as he was always a giver and we wanted to keep his memory going.

“I went home and I spoke to my boyfriend that night and I asked him what I could do next, as I’d already done the charities walks and those kinds of challenges.

“He said ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll message a few of my contacts’ and I think we’ve pretty much got half a team who used to play for Sunderland.

“I just want to reach out there because brain cancer and tumours have no funding – it’s a really low funded kind of cancer and I just want to get it out there and just try to make a bit of a difference as well as giving something back to those who knew dad.

“Something to look forward to and I know he would love it.”

Andrew loved fishing with friends
Andrew loved fishing with friends
(Image: Jessica Nicholas)

She is also looking to host a summer-style BBQ followed by drinks in a suitable bar afterwords, where karaoke, raffles and charity stands will all take place.

Although it’s early doors yet, Jessica is in good stead and is confident that she will get the event up and running – raising money for causes close to her heart.

And the community have wasted their no time in making generous donations to her campaign, which currently sits on £495 at the time of writing – which has left Jessica speechless and beyond belief.

She continued: “I think it’s really lovely to people to see that any normal person can make a difference you know?

“All of my friends and family, and other people who knew dad are messaging me saying ‘I think it’s absolutely amazing what you’re doing, if there’s any way that I can help then just let me know’ – just generally reaching out to me after I’ve set this date up.

“It’s just nice to see people doing something for someone else, rather than just for themselves, and I know my dad would have wanted it as well – he would be over the moon with it.”

You can check out her fundraiser over at Gofundme, here.

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Chronicle Live – Sunderland