So proud of Simon's charity quest in Gemma's memory

PUBLISHED: 21:07 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:43 24 May 2019

Simon Thomas with son Ethan. Photo: Bloodwise

Simon Thomas with son Ethan. Photo: Bloodwise


Nick Conrad pays tribute to the fighting spirit of Simon Thomas, who is raising funds into research into the type of cancer that took his wife Gemma's life

Many of you will have been moved by the tragic story of Gemma Thomas. I too have felt great sorrow for her husband Simon and son Ethan. This is a journey I recognise only too well, having lost my mother aged three.Nothing will lessen the daunting psychological mountain both have to scale, but my extremely positive conversation with Simon last week proves that Gemma's life will have a fantastic legacy and will provide hope to countless others.

The former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter has launched an excellent fund, raising money into vital research into the type of cancer that took his wife's life. Gemma was just 40 when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. The prognosis wasn't good - however the swiftness of Gemma's departure was shocking. She died within just three days of seeing the doctor.

Simon told me that he wanted to bring some kind of sense out of the wreckage of losing Gemma so early. I often ponder on why my mother was taken so young, but in time you come to accept that no answer will be forthcoming. No answer that could at least provide any sustainable comfort. We move forward, we grow. Coping mechanisms, in many forms, help to keep despair at bay. You can't stop the birds of sorrow circling your head, but you can stop them nesting in your hair.

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I think Simon's fundraising initiative is fantastic and I implore you all to support him. He is understandably motivated by the 'rawness' of his experience. He wishes to spare others from experiencing the pain that he is going through. Simon's voice cracks when he talks about his son. It's terrifically unfair to think that this little boy now faces a future without that powerful and nourishing love of a mother. Here I can testify that, though deeply difficult, you pull through. Others step up and the surviving parent, in my experience at least, adopted an ability to generate enough love to fill any vacuum.

Despite this, I often look at my little boy Rupert, aged three, who adores his mummy. It was at this age that my mother sadly died. To suggest that a departure of this magnitude wouldn't carry deep psychological impact would be naive, but youngsters do have an amazing ability to survive the deepest trauma.

I'm also backing Simon's new initiative because it is funding research in an area which doesn't get the attention it deserves. Certain cancers, for some reason, illicit greater support from the public despite the outcome tragically all too often being the same. Blood cancer is like a nuclear bomb going off in your body. Even if you're lucky 
enough to survive it can have long-term consequences. Though many of you will know about leukaemia, fewer of us will have heard of the likes of lymphoma and myeloma.

My dear friend Mike suffered from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and when I hear him talk about his condition to friends, he spends most of his time explaining the condition to an understandably clueless audience.

Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. The second phase can present itself in so many different ways. I think the way Simon is moving forward is commendable and I wish him all the best.

Shakespeare was right - tears water our growth.

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