Loved ones remember 32-year-old artist who died months after brain cancer diagnosis 

He told his mother: ‘Mom, it is what it is. We will all one day return to Mother Nature. It’s just that I have to return earlier’

LAZAROS Sofikitis was months into beginning a full-time career as an artist when he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma at the age of 32.

His mother, Chrisoula (Chris) Konstantakou, said that when he first went to see a doctor he was offered antidepressants for his headaches, eye pain and lethargy.

She said that Lazaros’ brain tumour was missed, and she wonders at how much more time they may have had with him if it had been caught when he first went to the doctor.

He passed away in November 2023 — eight months after he was diagnosed with a grade 4 Glioblastoma.

She said: “His life cycle was smaller, but he kept telling me Mom, it is what it is. We will all one day return to Mother Nature. It’s just that I have to return earlier.”

Lazaros (left) with his mother (middle) and sister (right). Image credit: Chris Konstantakou
Lazaros Sofikitis (left) with his mother Chris Konstantakou (middle) and sister Maria Sofikiti (right). Credit: Chris Konstantakou

His family and friends spoke of his great love for nature. Natasha Triantafyllidou, referred to as a “second Mom” by Lazaros and his sister, said he was fascinated by the beauty of Canada. This was his birthplace.

Natasha also said that he slept in caves around Crete, where he grew up, on a solo trip at the age of 19. He wanted to enjoy the beauties of the landscape as authentically as possible. 

He went on to study forestry at Bangor University. His resting place reflects his fondness for nature and the environment; he is surrounded by trees, meadows and wildflowers in Beacons Park natural burial ground in Bannau Brycheiniog (formerly known as Brecon Beacons).

His mother said: “He always reminded us don’t pick the flowers, don’t step on the insects, we don’t need another pair of shoes.”

A few weeks before Lazaros died, his loved ones started a GoFundMe to fundraise for treatment that was unavailable on the NHS. Part of the money raised is being used for his burial, including a tree planting at his burial site. 

The rest of the money raised — almost £15,000 — will be shared between Brainstrust, Velindre Cancer Centre and Marie Curie in his memory. 

Lazaros was a great believer in the power of science, and wanted the funds raised to go to cancer research if they couldn’t be used for his treatment. Before he passed, he said: “If I can save one person, that would be wonderful.” 

The £17,200 target on his GoFundMe was reached within less than a week. Natasha believes that it was not only because of his age that people were moved to donate, but also his personality. She said: “He was the sunshine of my life. He filled me with joy.”


Alex Kastrinogiannis (left) and Lazaros (right) on a camping trip in the south of Crete in 2016. Credit: Alex Kastrinogiannis

His childhood best friend Alex Kastrinogiannis, who described Lazaros as being like a brother to him, said that he had a very calming presence, and he made friends easily.

Lazaros helped renovate part of Alex’s family home in Crete a few years ago, graffitiing their backyard walls in the process. 

He left art everywhere he went. His passion for graffiti in particular began at a young age, when Alex said he would draw on the school desks. 

He would go on, said Natasha, to graffiti an entire wall of his school building in Crete. The graffiti remains there to this day.

She described him as having a restless spirit. This was evidenced by his dedication to art. 

Lazaros had found a home in Britain’s graffiti capital, Bristol, when he started getting symptoms of his brain tumour. 

His friend and old flatmate Zac Gregory said that Lazaros had saved up enough money to dedicate himself wholly to creating art for six months in mid-2022. He was trying to become a full-time artist in the long run.

At one point he was working every waking hour, six days a week, on his art. On what was meant to be Lazaros’ day off, Zac was repainting their living room. Lazaros asked if he could graffiti a mural on one of the walls, creating a nature-inspired scene.

Lazaros with another of his paintings. Image credit: Chrisoula Konstantakou
Lazaros with another of his paintings. Credit: Chris Konstantakou
Lazaros' graffiti on his school's wall. Image credit: Natasha Triantafylllidou
Lazaros’ graffiti on his school’s wall. Credit: Natasha Triantafyllidou
The mural that Lazaros made in his flat in Bristol. Image credit: Zac Gregory
The mural that Lazaros made in his flat in Bristol. Credit: Zac Gregory

Lazaros continued to make art after his diagnosis. Even when he became partially blind as a result of his brain surgery, he painted. He told his medical team that painting was helping him through the fight against his brain tumour — it was his lifeline. 

As he relearned to paint after brain surgery, he found an abstract style best suited his abilities. He gifted his first piece post-surgery to Dr Whitehous, his surgeon. It is hanging in the Neuro-Oncology Centre at University Hospital of Wales.

Lazaros’ mother Chris is also an artist. She is a ceramist at Fireworks Clay Studios in Cardiff, having studied at Cardiff School of Art and Design. Lazaros’ sister Maria Sofikiti also lives in Cardiff, working in hospitality for Cardiff Met University. The Christmas party raffle at her workplace will be raising money for Brainstrust.

Chris said: “When young people don’t feel well, they need to take it seriously and go and insist that they be seen and checked at their [GP] surgery. If the surgery says no, there’s nothing wrong and they continue not feeling well, they have to insist.”

There is evidence, which she cited, that doctors are missing the early warning signs of cancer in young people because of a lack of data on early onset cancer. 

There was great admiration amongst Lazaros’ family and friends for the courage and dignity with which he faced this illness. Everyone spoke of his great sense of humour, his ability to have hours-long philosophical conversations and his love for art and the environment.


Lazaros’ abstract painting post-surgery. Credit: Chris Konstantakou

Lazaros’ mother and sister remember fondly their walks in nature, including Cardiff’s parks, and their visits to National Museum Cardiff with him. They aim to plant a tree in Bute Park in his memory in 2024. 

The charities receiving the donations from the rest of the money raised by the GoFundMe offered their thanks. 

Brainstrust said: “Lazaros was an inspiring force for so many – as shown by many, many kind messages and the deep sorrow shared at his loss, but also the incredible sum of money raised in his memory. 

With the donation we hope to receive, a portion of the funds raised, we promise to use every penny to its greatest potential to further Brainstrust’s mission – to support people with a brain tumour who are living with the consequences of a cruel diagnosis today and in the future. 

“For the 80,000 people in the UK living with a brain tumour diagnosis and the cruel impact that comes with it, it never seems fair. This is amplified when those affected have a full life ahead of them and have touched so many others with their positivity and good nature, like Lazaros clearly has.” 

Velindre Cancer Centre said: “We are so grateful for any donation given to Velindre, as a charity we fund a variety of projects across the hospital with the aim of providing as much support as possible to patients and their families. This ranges from funding our specialist nurses, investing in clinical trials and providing welfare support to those who need it most. 

We are known as the Hospital of Hope because we go above and beyond for our patients, but this wouldn’t be possible without fundraising. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in raising these vital funds in memory of Lazaros Sofikitis.”

Lazaros in Bute Park after his surgery. Credit: Chris Konstantakou
  • The GoFundMe page remains open for donations. From December 16, funds raised will go towards a legacy research project being created in Lazaros’ honour.
  • Lazaros’ family have also set up a Marie Curie Cherished Memory Fund to raise more money for end of life care.