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