Updated: Jul 31, 2018
Aged just six, Tom was given a diagnosis of ADHD and Autism. Unfortunately, upon starting secondary school, this opened up a new line of bullying for some of the students. The bullies would often mimic his head movements and eye ticks, both side effects of his diagnoses. He tried so much to keep himself to himself, but it was understandably tough.
Aged 12, Tom was victim to an appalling physical assault by these older students; they knocked him to the ground on his way home and beat him badly. They left him with a large bump on his head so a CT scan was ordered.
Tom was allowed home, but they were called back the following day to discuss the results of the scan. Tom's mum described the expression on the face of the Doctor as 'solemn' when she sat opposite him.
In a strange twist of luck/fate, the terrible beating actually saved Tom's life...
The CT scan revealed a mass on his brain. Upon reviewing the image, they had found a four centimetre tumour.
Upon receiving this news, Tom's mum thought back to his behaviour over the last few months and something clicked. He'd been suffering with regular headaches and on a few occasions he'd lost his balance; he even fell asleep at school. He'd also been moodier than usual, but naturally this was put down to his ADHD.
Tom was taken for an MRI scan and a biopsy, and then left with a terrifying two week wait for the results. The scan revealed their worst fears; the tumour in Tom's brain was cancerous.
The family were due to go on holiday overseas in just two weeks time, and the Doctors revealed the pressure on the plane could have been potentially fatal to this 'ticking time bomb' in his brain. The family had already come so close to losing him.
Just days later Tom was ready for his risky surgery. He could potentially lose his ability to walk or talk. Six long hours went by whilst his family patiently waited outside the operating room... then the doors burst open and Tom was wheeled out.
The surgery went really well, and it wasn't long before Tom was sitting up and asking for a McDonald's. The surgeons managed to remove the entire tumour, and after just a week Tom was allowed to go home.
Tom then started six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Tom's bravery astonished everyone, and he continues to take every single day as it comes.
His main aim now, through sharing his incredible story, is to raise awareness of the symptoms and attempt to get more people the vital early diagnosis that could save their life.
My Shining Star helped to fund some of the essential repairs of the family car; given the amount of travel in/out of hospital during treatment, it was vital that this transport lifeline was maintained.
The most typical symptoms of brain tumours in children and young people include:
· Persistent or recurring vomiting;
· Persistent or recurring headaches;
· Balance/co-ordination problems/walking problems;
· Blurred or double vision;
· Poor balance and co-ordination;
· Abnormal eye movements;
· Abnormal head position;
· Fits or seizures;
· Behavioural changes, especially tiredness;
· Increasing head circumference in babies.
These details were kindly approved by Tom's mum Leanne. His story has also been shared in The Mirror and Take a Break in the hope they can help other families x
LEFT: Tom during happier times; RIGHT: Tom at the end of six weeks radiotherapy treatment.