THE mother of four-year-old cancer victim Thomas Cammack has spoken of her heartache.
Speaking to The Press for the first time since Thomas died in April, Toni Wood said: “We have had a summer adapting to life without hospital, but there’s been a Thomas-shaped hole in it.”
Thomas was diagnosed last year with neuroblastoma – a cancer which spread from his adrenal gland to his skull, bone marrow, blood and pelvis – and underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his brain. He appeared to be recovering, but days later an MRI scan found new tumours, and he died on April 18.
Toni, Richard Cammack, and their children Emily, who turns seven today, and two-year-old Jack, are still adjusting to life without Thomas. This week, Emily has returned to Barlby Bridge School, where Thomas was due to start.
Toni said: “She was happy to go back, she was really glad to be going back to see her friends.
“Thomas had been at nursery prior to his relapse and had been allocated a place there. He loved it. It has been a really tough week. We just get on with life, we have to take it as normal and see the end of each day through.”
To mark what would have been Thomas’s first day at school, the family placed balloons at his graveside. Toni said she was amazed at how strong Emily and Jack had been since Thomas’s death.
She said: “They are so resilient. I’m very proud of them both. We are just taking some time as a family at the moment. We have been and printed a lot of photos off, and Jack knows who Thomas is because we talk about him all the time. He’s still part of our lives.
“Having neuroblastoma rob us of more than just Thomas is just unthinkable. We have to get on with it. If we just lay in bed all day, neuroblastoma would have taken more than Thomas.”
Hundreds of people filled Selby Abbey to celebrate Thomas’s life, and his coffin was carried into the Abbey to music from The Gruffalo Live, his favourite show, which he had been to see only days before he died. Toni said: “The day we went to see The Gruffalo was just Thomas’s best time ever. That was the Saturday, and he died on the Wednesday.
“As we were walking from the car to the theatre, he was so excited, and had been in surgery just a week and a bit before. He was still taking it steady but he was so excited to go see The Gruffalo, and said: ‘Oh mummy, I’m so excited, I’ve got butterflies dancing in my tummy’.
The cast met Thomas backstage, and were so upset at hearing of his death, they organised a sponsored sky dive, to raise money for Families Against Neuroblastoma- a charity which helped support the family. The skydive is due to take place today, and Toni said the family were flattered that the cast had been so touched by Thomas.
She said: “We wish we could be there, but it’s Emily’s birthday and she’s at school. To see The Gruffalo jump out of a plane, Thomas would have thought it was the funniest thing ever. We want to thank them for being such an important part of Thomas’s life. It meant so much to him, certainly in the last few months of his life.”
To donate to the Gruffalo team, go to justgiving.com/The-Gruffalo-Jumps