Northampton father-to-be runs London Marathon for cancer charity after fiancé diagnosed with brain tumour
Tom has raised nearly £4,000 to help fund vital research
A Northampton father-to-be ran the London Marathon for a cancer charity after his fiancé was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Tom Lawler wanted to honour his pregnant wife-to-be’s strength after she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in 2017.
So the 31-year-old decided to take on the 26.2 mile run, which he completed in four hours, 33 minutes and 37 seconds.
Tom’s fiancé , 30-year-old Samantha Toomey, was there to cheer him on as he ran the race last weekend (October 3) and as he raised nearly £4,000 for Brain Tumour Research.
Tom, who works for Barclays, said: “On December 22, 2017, I was at the Emirates Stadium in London, where I’d been watching the football.
“After the game, I called Sam and was shocked to hear her words were all jumbled.
“I couldn’t work out what she was talking about –she was making no sense. It sounded like she was drunk.
“Her brother rang 111 and they sent an ambulance, which took her to Northampton General Hospital.
“The doctors did a CT scan to investigate a possible cause. Shortly after that, she was admitted to the stroke ward and then, on Christmas Eve, she was given an MRI scan.
“A few hours later, we were told that she’d been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Definitely not the Christmas present either of us were hoping for.”
Samantha was referred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where, in January 2018, she was told it looked like a grade 2 (low-grade) tumour, which they would attempt to remove during an awake craniotomy.
Tom added: “Sam’s surgery was on July 15, 2018. It lasted nine hours, during which her amazing surgeon managed to remove 90-95 percent of the tumour.
“The care she received was fantastic – we couldn’t fault any of the team looking after her.”
The biopsy results revealed the tumour was a grade 3 astrocytoma, which meant Sam would need further treatment, beginning with six-and-a-half weeks of radiotherapy at Northampton General.
Sam said: “The radiotherapy whizzed by and I was lucky enough to meet some of the loveliest people, both staff and patients, during my daily trips to the hospital.
“Other than a bit of tiredness, dry skin and some big bald patches on my pre-shaven head, I didn’t suffer with too many side effects and I think I got off lightly.”
Sam’s radiotherapy was followed by a trip to Paris – where Tom proposed and, in November 2018, the couple returned home newly-engaged, ready for the next stage of Sam’s treatment, 13 weeks of Temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy.
Tom continued: “We’d always talked about having a family, so when the doctor mentioned the possibility of creating embryos to preserve for the future, we were very keen.
“Before Sam’s chemo began, we went to a fertility clinic in Oxford and decided to go ahead with the process, which incredibly resulted in 16 embryos being frozen.”
Sam finished chemotherapy in February 2020 and, happily, her scans have remained stable ever since.
In January 2021, she and Tom decided they were ready to think about using the embryos but after going through fertility tests and speaking to the clinic in Oxford, they were advised to try naturally before attempting IVF.
“Just two months after we began trying to conceive, in April 2021, we were thrilled to find out that Sam was expecting our first baby,” Tom said.
“We’re having a little girl, who is due on December 23 – almost four years to the day since Sam got her devastating diagnosis.
“Sam has handled her pregnancy the same way she has coped with everything else – with such strength and positivity.
“She’s been unbelievable. Somehow she manages to turn everything into a positive and her attitude helps to lift me and her friends and family when we’re feeling down about the situation.”
Having originally signed up to do the marathon in April 2020 and then in April this year, Tom says the two event cancellations, caused by the pandemic, have actually been a blessing as it gave him more time to train.
Reflecting on the day, Tom added: “The atmosphere from mile one all the way to the end was incredible and something I’ll never forget.
“Seeing family and friends around the course gave me an extra boost to keep going, in what was a truly emotional and memorable day.
“I’m not afraid to admit there were tears on the way and afterwards.
“Most importantly, Sam and I were very touched by all the donations we received over the last year, which will make a huge difference to Brain Tumour Research.”
To make a donation to Tom’s cause, visit his JustGiving page.