Tom was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December 2008 and underwent extensive surgery, including a laryngectomy, pharyngectomy and tracheotomy. By far the hardest thing for Tom to deal with was the loss of his voice.
It was a deeply traumatic time for the family but we were helped immensely by Kirsty, Nadine & the rest of the staff at the Speech & Language Therapy Unit of St John’s Hospital, Livingston. They took on the challenge of fitting a prosthetic valve so that Tom would have some version of a voice which was not an easy task given the level of surgery that Tom had had. Tom greatly appreciated the hard work, tenacity & compassion shown by the staff at the Unit, who succeeded through trial & effort to give Tom a voice for long periods afterwards. They never gave up on him, and when one solution no longer worked, another was found.
A second tumour, diagnosed 5 years later, proved to be one challenge too many for Tom to fight & he died peacefully at home with his family around him, propped up in front of the television watching the golf at Wentworth.
Our family supported Cancer Research throughout Tom’s illness, but Tom felt strongly that he wanted to help others whose need was more immediate and who were facing and dealing with the same challenges that he had been through. He asked that the family make a donation in his memory to the Speech and Language Therapy Unit so that they could invest in state of the art equipment, training and research projects to further help others have a voice and reduce their feeling of isolation.
Some of Tom’s friends have also expressed an interest in donating in Tom’s memory and it would be wonderful if you felt you could help us create a lasting legacy for him by making a real difference to others who are going through the same trauma.
Lindsay, Clare and Gavin