‘Cancer won’t stop me raising £25,000 for charity’

Published on: 02 Oct 2017

A FATHER of two young children has launched an ambitious plan to raise £25,000 for charity despite undergoing treatment for cancer.

Tom Bird, 31, was diagnosed with high grade Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in April and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment ever since.

Despite his ordeal, he says he wants to "give something back" in recognition of the support he has been given by his family, friends, employer and hospital staff.

Tom, who lives with wife Janie, daughter Sophia, three, and son Reuben, one, is planning three charity events in a bid to reach his target - a family fun day at Pomphrey Hill, a mass headshave at Cleve Rugby Club and an internet auction of shirts from all 92 football league clubs.

Proceeds from the three events will be split between Macmillan and The Forever Friends Appeal, which is raising money for a new cancer centre at Bath RUH, where Tom is being treated.

Tom, who lives in Cadbury Heath, is being helped by his parents Alan and Sandra, from Downend, and his sister Johanna Noble, 33, who lives in Fishponds, who have been visiting local businesses to get their support for the fundraising campaign.

Tom, a dispatcher for Avon and Somerset Police, discovered a lump under his right arm while he was showering.

His GP thought it was just fatty tissue but decided to send him for a scan at Southmead Hospital just to double check. 

The scan was inconclusive so doctors gave Tom an MRI scan which revealed the lump could be cancerous. More tests were carried out and Tom was told the heartbreaking news that he had high grade Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system around the blood.

"It was a massive shock," said Tom. "No one thinks it's going to happen to them, especially at my age as this type of disease mainly affects people over the age of 65."

To date Tom has received six rounds of chemotherapy and will start 15 sessions of radiotherapy around mid September.

At the end of September he will be given a scan which will tell him how well the treatment has worked.

Tom, a Bristol Rovers supporter, heard about a campaign to build a cancer centre while he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Bath RUH and thought it might be something he could get involved in.

Although he hasn't used the services offered by cancer charity Macmillan, he was impressed with the work it does so decided he would try to raise as much as he could and split proceeds between the two charities.

Tom said: "It was a bit of a distraction for me, really. I wanted to keep my mind active as well. I don't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself I want to do something I can get my teeth into.”

Tom is optimistic about his future: "The lump was massive but now I can't feel anything there, and neither can doctors, but until I have the scan, I won't know for sure.

"I'm a very optimistic person. When I found out I had a little cry and my daughter came up to me and said 'It's going to be all right, daddy'. I made a decision there and then that I wasn't going to cry in front of the kids again - I was going to be strong for everyone. I've got such amazing family and friends and that's half the battle. They keep me positive."

Tom's first fundraising event, the family fun day, takes place at Pomphrey Hill, Mangotsfield, on Saturday September 30 from 11am-5.30pm and Tom hopes to raise around £5,000. It will feature live entertainment with a magician and singers, barbecue, bouncy castle, tombola, raffle and hairbraiding.

Tom said: “I wanted to organise a family fun day to say thanks to all the people who have supported me through this.”

Tom will follow that with an attempt to break the world record for highest the number of simultaneous headshaves on November 18 at Cleve Rugby Club in Mangotsfield.

The record is 329, set by a Canadian cancer charity, but Tom is aiming to get at least 350 people on board.

The last event is the auction of football shirts. 

Tom  has been in touch with the 92 Premiership and English Football League Clubs to ask for signed shirts.

“ I've already got well over 80 pledges of shirts from clubs so haven't got too many left. I'm now waiting for the transfer window to close so the shirts can be up to date. I'm looking to get the shirts in by the end of September so I can auction them off at the start of October. I don't think it's ever been done before; the closest seems to be some police officers in Cambridge who managed to get 72 so it will be quite a challenge.

"My aim is to raise a total of £25,000, which is quite a big whack. If we can get 350 people involved in the headshave and they each raise £100 each then we should be able to exceed the target.

"Cancer is one of the biggest battles in life and if I can remain positive in the face of that, then there's nothing that's not achievable."

 

• To find out more about getting involved in Tom's fundraising campaign, contact him via Facebook at
http://bit.ly/2wxzAOO 

 

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