13-Year-Old Boy Died of Cancer Just One Day after Diagnosis

Tom Walker, a 13-year-old boy from Wales, died one day after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. To honor his memory, his family has raised a major £100,000 for the Cancer Research Wales project, hoping to give other kids the chance to fight the rare disease that took Tom’s life.

In March 2018, Tom Walker, a student at Monmouth School for Boys, was the youngest of 90 people who fought against cold and wet conditions to tackle the Brecon Beacons Night Hike to raise vital funds for Cancer Research Wales.

Less than three months later, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

The next day, Tom underwent a surgery that was required to start his treatment, but sadly, he didn’t make it.

His mother, Debbie Walker said her son's condition "crept up on him largely unnoticed" and added:

"As a friend recently said to me, it was never a fair fight - and that is what would have annoyed Tom the most. He was always fair. He had an incredible sense of what was right and what was wrong. He would have taken anything on, but this was a very one-sided fight."

Dr. Andrew Daniel, Headmaster at Monmouth School for Boys, said that Tom’s death came as a shock for the entire school community, where he was Tom was considered “a very popular and caring boy.”

Tom enjoyed rowing, was a very talented drummer and once took sang alongside the schools’ musicians at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Since Tom’s sudden death, his family and friends have been working hard to raise funds for the Cancer Research Wales project, and less than a year later, they reached their goal of £100,000.

The Walker family said in a statement:

“We would like to say thank you to every single person that has helped us achieved this incredible target. Every time someone does any fundraising, it shows us, as a family, that people are thinking of and remembering Tom. And we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”

People from the community and school organized lemonade sales, sweet sales, sponsored rows both on water and on land, hat parades, merchandise sales, a Christmas car park on the Monmouth School for Boys’ grounds, a Swim for Tom event, and many other activities to raise funds.

The money will go towards funding a three-year post researching the causes and treatments for AML where there is a recognized gap in research or evidence.

Cancer Research Wales will put out a grant call for an acute myeloid leukemia research scholarship this summer, named in memory of Tom, with the appointed scientist to start working on the project in September 2020.

“We hope that by funding this research, we can change the odds so that people affected by this type of leukemia are more likely to survive, be it by earlier diagnosis or by more effective treatment,” the Walker family added.

Acute myeloid leukemia is a rare but aggressive disease about which very little is known. The survival rates for the disease have remained stubbornly low and worsen with age.

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