A let­ter to... The boy who proved them all wrong

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Dear Thomas,

Hold­ing you that first day, my heart melted. You were small – 6lb 12oz – when you were born in De­cem­ber 2001. Lit­tle, but per­fect. Your brother Lewis, then 2, adored you, too.

Then, at 10 months, I found a pea-sized lump in your groin. The doc­tors weren’t con­cerned, but the lump grew to the size of an or­ange.

‘Thomas has acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia,’ a doc­tor at Coven­try Hos­pi­tal said a month later.

Your dad Steven, then 35, gripped my hand. I felt sick, dizzy.

‘Why Thomas?’ I wailed. The doc­tors of­fered chemo but it didn’t work. At the same time, I was fight­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer. I’d been di­ag­nosed just after you’d been born.

But I couldn’t fo­cus on my treat­ment, miss­ing my ap­point­ments to get you to yours.

At 12 months, you got sep­ti­caemia, had two car­diac ar­rests, were put in a coma. ‘Thomas has se­ri­ous brain dam­age,’ the doc­tors told us after you’d been asleep 17 days. They said you had two months to live.

It tore me to shreds to start plan­ning your fu­neral, but that’s what we did. Only, then, some­thing in­cred­i­ble hap­pened…

Two months passed, and you were still fight­ing. You were in and out of Acorns Chil­dren’s Hospice in Birm­ing­ham. Ev­ery time, the doc­tors told us to pre­pare for the worst.

But, at 18 months, you were in the hospice bed one day, hold­ing my hand, and... ‘Mama,’ you bab­bled. Eyes wide, I called the nurses so they could hear it, too. No­body could be­lieve it.

Since then, you’ve con­tin­ued to amaze us all.

In March 2006, you were given the all-clear. I was only can­cer-free in 2012.

It’s not been easy.

You have cere­bral palsy, rheuma­toid arthri­tis, epilepsy. You’ve spent your life in a wheel­chair. But, through it all, you smile.

And now you’re 17. You’ll be leav­ing your spe­cial school soon, I can’t be­lieve it!

You love to watch the wrestling on TV, and play­ing PlayS­ta­tion.

Money’s tight be­cause I had to give up my work

It tore me to shreds to plan your fu­neral...

so I could care for you.

But the char­ity Fam­ily Fund has helped us with prac­ti­cal things and taken us on trips for qual­ity time with Lewis, now 19.

I don’t know what your fu­ture holds, and some­times it scares me, Tom, I ad­mit.

But since you beat that death sen­tence, ev­ery day has been a bless­ing.

And I want you to have the bright­est fu­ture. I tell you all the time, don’t let your dis­abil­ity get in your way.

Never be ashamed of who you are, be­cause you’re the strong­est, bravest boy I know.

And, Tom, I wouldn’t change you for the world.

All my love, Mum xx

Lisa Carter, 48, Kid­der­min­ster

Fam­ily Fun pro­vides grants for fam­i­lies on low in­comes rais­ing dis­abled or se­ri­ously ill chil­dren. To find out more, visit fam­i­ly­fund.org.uk, or call 01904 550055.

Me and Tom hav­ing hol­i­day fun!

Two days old and gor­geous!

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