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  • Writer's pictureThe Hub

BTAM 8GR8 Songs #3

Updated: May 17, 2022

King College Hospital's Prof Ash & CNS Vicky

Picture: King's College Hospital's Dynamic Duo Ash & Vicky

filming on the Helipad at the hospital / Credit: Victoria Hurwitz

The Brain Tumour Awareness Month 8GR8 Songs series began with St George's Hospital neurosurgeon Simon Stapleton and continued with former model and actor, and craniotomy survivor Mandy Lomax's moving personal testimony. Mandy's post struck a chord, reaching no. 13 in Mixcloud's Global Interview chart. The series concludes with a charity perspective from The Brain Tumour Charity's CEO Alex Lochrane.

The Hub is grateful to Shona Floyd, a nurse and the Healthcare Engagement Manager at The Brain Tumour Charity, for the introduction to episode 3's guests. Step forward King's College Hospital's dynamic duo Professor Keyoumars "Ash" Ashkan and Clinical Nurse Specialist Victoria Hurwitz. You can read about the song choices and listen to The Hub's interview with Ash and Vicky, the radio broadcast and to their playlist below.

If you have been personally affected by a brain tumour you can Get Support from The Brain Tumour Charity, Get Involved in its campaigns and support its vital search for New Treatments. You can support the work of Ash and Vicky via King's College Hospital Charity.


Professor Neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan

Picture: Prof. Keyoumars Ashkan with violinist Dagmar Turner whose brain tumour he removed without destroying her talent / Credit: Associated Newspapers Limited

Professor Keyoumars "Ash" Ashkan is Professor of Neurosurgery with a specialist interest in functional neurosurgery, image guided surgery and surgery for brain and spinal tumours. Ash is the lead for neuro-oncology and the lead for the neuroscience commercial clinical trial unit at King's College Hospital. Ash is actively involved in research, especially in developing novel treatments for brain tumours and for Parkinson's disease.

1. Bridge Over Troubled Water

Ash chose Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Trouble Water to highlight the role health care professionals play in selfless service to patients in need.

2. Imagine

Picture: Professor Neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan holding a picture of

thanks "for all you do!" from the Brain Tumour Charity /

Credit: Professor Neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan

John Lennon's Imagine signifies Ash's academic role as the lead for the neuroscience commercial clinical trial unit at King's College Hospital and the imagination required to find much needed new treatments and solutions for people afflicted by brain tumours.

3. Summertime

YouTube video: A "This Morning" interview with Philip & Holly with a film of Ash performing an awake craniotomy on violin player Dagmar Turner while she played Summertime

Summertime is a particularly personal choice for Ash as it recalls his experience of operating on semi-professional musician Dagmar Turner, a violinist at the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra. Ash performed an awake craniotomy while Dagmar played the violin as a way of ensuring her ability to play the violin was maintained. Summertime was the main tune Dagmar played during the operation.

Says the YouTube summary: After an aggressive tumour left Dagmar Turner needing life-saving brain surgery, her one hope was to play her beloved violin again. But in a twist of fate, her surgeon (and fellow music lover) found a way to keep Dagmar playing - leaving her serenading her surgeons whilst they operated on her brain. And after 90% of the tumour was successfully removed, we’re joined by Dagmar and her surgeon Professor Ashkan to tell their incredible story.

4. Insomnia

Mid-nineties dance track Insomnia by Faithless is Ash's ironic, and partly nostalgic, nod to the no sleep junior doctor training regime he experienced at the start of his career. Says Ash: "I wouldn't recommend it. But it did equip me to cope and concentrate whenever I have to do a lengthy operation."


Clinical Nurse Specialist Victoria Hurwitz

Picture: Clinical Nurse Specialist Victoria Hurwitz / Credit: Victoria Hurwitz

Victoria Hurwitz is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at King's College Hospital. Vicky also regularly spends time at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, including at a weekly oncology clinic. Vicky featured in a BTAM Brain Tumour Charity blog, A Day In The Life of a Clinical Nurse Specialist, superbly crafted by The Hub's colleague Jude Clay.

Says the blog: "Today, on National Cancer CNS Day, we’re celebrating the amazing people who help those affected by a brain tumour. Vicky Hurwitz, a Neuro-oncology Nurse Consultant based at King’s College Hospital in London spoke to us about what a day in the life of a CNS often looks like."

5. The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti

Says Vicky: The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti by Stéphane Pompounac from Hotel Costas 9 - I was staying in the Cotswolds with my husband in a lovely hotel and the Hotel Costas album was in the CD player in the room. I loved it and have listened to it for years since. It gives a feeling of being really relaxed and away from it all. It always takes me to that feeling of being unhurried and slowing it all down. Sometimes our brains, as well as our bodies, need a rest and this gives me exactly that.

6. Time after Time

Says Vicky: I recently lost my cousin to suicide and this was played at her funeral. It’s a really important subject we need to talk more about. We focus on reducing anxiety and depression with our patients. I questioned this song choice as my reason isn’t very uplifting but it’s good to talk. The more we do the easier it will hopefully be for people to talk in their time of need and to get help. I love Mabel's version of Time after Time even though it’s associated with the McDonald's advert!

7. FourFiveSeconds

YouTube video: James Bay - FourFiveSeconds in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge

Says Vicky: James Bay's version of FourFiveSeconds is a song I listen to on my way in to work all the time. It’s a three minute walk from the train to the hospital and this helps me feel ready for the day ahead. I love the tone of his voice and the combination of instruments used. Note: The Paul McCartney, Rhianna and Kanye version of the song is on the playlist below.

8. Ghetto Supastar (That is What You Are)

Says Vicky: Supastar by Ghetto reminds me of being on my (first) gap year in India in the late 90s. I was 18 and on my first real adventure away from home having just finished A-levels. I was working as a teacher in a small village. I remember this song being played at lots of the parties I went to. So I think of being care free and at the beginning of a journey to work out what I wanted to do in life. Coming back I got a job as a care assistant in a local nursing home and as a result changed my intended degree from education and sociology to nursing.

After sending her list, Vicky reflected: "Once you start thinking about it there are so many amazing songs from different parts of your life!"


Listen to Ash & Vicky

Picture: Vicky on one of her regular, calming, cold-water swims / Credit: Victoria Hurwitz

You can listen to The Hub's interview with Ash and Vicky covering Ash's childhood in Iran, meeting Vicky for the first time at King's College Hospital, their motivation for working with people with brain tumours, how they find time to relax after work, and their choice of BTAM 8GR8 Songs, by clicking on the link below.


Listen to Ash & Vicky on the Radio

You can listen to the broadcast of Ash & Vicky's BTAM 8GR8 Songs and interview on Epsom Hospital Radio by clicking on the links below.

EHR: Fri 8 Apr Two to Three PM

EHR: Fri 8 Apr 2022 Three to Four PM


Listen to Ash & Vicky's Playlist

You can listen to a playlist of Ash & Vicky's BTAM 8GR8 Songs by clicking on the link below.



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