TV presenter Simon Thomas sets up fund in tragic wife's memory
PUBLISHED: 17:46 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:46 15 May 2019
TV presenter Simon Thomas has launched the Gemma Thomas Fund to raise money for research into the type of leukaemia which killed his wife.
Mrs Thomas died in November 2017 just a few days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
Suffering with flu-like symptoms, she visited her GP three times over the course of six days, and each time was told to go home and rest. Finally admitted to hospital, she died from AML just four days later.
As a president of the blood cancer charity Bloodwise, Mr Thomas will continue to raise awareness of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and other blood cancers, and lead on fundraising activities for the Gemma Thomas Fund.
Plans are underway for an ambitious 30-day challenge in September to raise awareness and funds as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
Mr Thomas, who was born and raised in Norwich, said: "It makes my heart glad because it's bringing something good out of the utter wreckage of losing Gemma, and I am determined to raise as much money as I can for the Gemma Thomas Fund. I want to invest in the research that will allow us to better predict when this disease might happen, and find new treatments that will save more lives and mean more families don't have to experience such a devastating loss.
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"I also want to make sure more people are aware of the signs and symptoms of all blood cancers so we can improve early diagnosis and give people that fighting chance. Over half the population cannot name a single symptom of the disease, and yet it kills more people than breast or prostate cancer every year. That awareness has to improve."
Bloodwise will invest funds raised by Mr Thomas into research projects which focus on improving understanding of AML and its relationship with other blood cancers, and finding more effective treatments for the disease.
Survival rates for this aggressive type of blood cancer are low, with just 15pc of people surviving for five years or more.
Gemma Peters, chief executive of Bloodwise, said: "Gemma's legacy has already had such a positive impact on the lives of so many. We are proud that this will continue through the work of the Gemma Thomas Fund, as we look to improve our understanding of blood cancer and find better treatments, especially for acute myeloid leukaemia, for which survival rates remain so poor.
"It is a huge privilege to be working with Simon in his role as a president of Bloodwise, and we look forward to working with him over the next few years to improve the outlook for everyone affected by blood cancer."
AML is a type of blood cancer that affects around 2,500 people every year in the UK.
Symptoms include persistent and unexplained tiredness, infections, fever, bleeding, and weight loss.