Friday 1st April 2016
When Tom, my younger brother, died in 2014 it took months for the shock to subside.
He didn’t die of cancer but he did suffer terribly with a rare form of bone cancer when he was a teenager. Having to bury Tom prematurely brought back powerful memories of what a truly horrific experience battling cancer was for him.
Tom was 14 years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. He should have been skateboarding, his sport of choice, but instead he spent a year in and out of various hospitals, or at home on a cocktail of pain management drugs.
Tom’s story started with a suspected fractured heel. This was followed by a visit to the orthopaedic department. They put his foot in a cast but rather than easing the pain the cast aggravated his sore heel and left it red and swollen. By now red flags were being raised and he was whizzed off for an urgent MRI scan.
Tom and my parents were soon called in to see an oncologist. He tried to give Tom his diagnosis but Tom was too young to understand the full importance of what he was being told.
My parents had to explain to him that he had cancer - a life threatening illness and one which would change his life forever.
I can’t imagine how it feels to look your child in the eye and tell them they may die.
Or that they may lose a limb but I can empathise with the overwhelming feelings of helplessness and powerlessness that go hand in hand with the suffering of a loved one.
And such suffering. He lost his hair, of course, and had so many treatments; tests, cannulas etc., we lost count.
This is where Teenage Cancer Trust comes in.
Through all of this – the confusion, the fear and the brutal cancer treatment itself – staff at Teenage Cancer Trust are by your side. The staff at the first ever Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Middlesex Hospital in London were by Tom’s side and they were by our side. Without their compassion, strength and expert care our time in hospital would have been unbearable.
Not only does Teenage Cancer Trust ensure incredible support and care to patients and families, but they ensure that teenagers with cancer are next to other teenagers with cancer. Tom hated being stuck in bed but this became tolerable in the Teenage Cancer Trust ward because he was surrounded by his peers.
So I’m running the London Marathon to support this fantastic cause. I’m running to say thank you to Teenage Cancer Trust for all they did for Tom and my family. And I’m running the London Marathon in memory of my incredibly brave brother, Tom.