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Drag queen diagnosed with devastating brain tumour at 29 now living on ‘borrowed time’

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

A former Brighton drag queen says he’s now living on “borrowed time” after being diagnosed with a rare malignant brain tumour at the age of 29.

Edward Ruggiero is better known as his drag persona Eddie OK Adams, who came third in a pilot audition for Ru Paul’s Drag Race back in 2015.

But two years later it all came crashing down when he was rushed to hospital after suffering a seizure during the weekend of Brighton Pride.

Doctors diagnosed him with a grade three anaplastic astrocytoma – a devastating brain tumour affecting his nervous system.

Months later Ruggiero underwent a craniotomy operation on his brain while he was awake. He suffered a life-threatening infection two weeks after the procedure which meant he needed further surgery to remove part of his skull, leaving his head misshapen.

Doctors gave him a prognosis of between three and five years. Now 33, Ruggiero explained to The Argus why he’s chosen not to continue with a punishing chemotherapy regime.

“It seems so brutal that, in a world in which we have achieved so many things, the only treatment for brain cancer is to cut it out by surgery, burn it with radiation and poison it with chemotherapy,” he said.

“With such a limited life expectancy, why would I waste any of that precious time putting myself through more horrific treatment for the sake of a few more months?”

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Ruggiero had to leave his life in Brighton behind and move back to his family home in Bedfordshire after his diagnosis.

“Some days it’s as much as I can do to get out of bed, and that seems pitiful for a 33-year-old man at what should be the prime of my life,” he said.

“My brain tumour has robbed me of my career, my prospects and, ultimately, it will rob me of my life.”

In the time he has left the drag queen is demanding government action to fund more research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40.

He’s joined the Brain Tumour Research charity in signing a petition calling for increased investment in scientific research and equal funding to research for other cancers, such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

Ruggiero’s mother Julie said: “Edward has told me he isn’t afraid of dying but I am terrified to think about life without him.

“It seems so unfair that brain tumours kill more people under 40 than any other cancer. How can it be that there are so few treatments?”

Click here to view and sign the petition now.