Tom Parker: 'Incredible' The Wanted singer praised by cancer charities

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Cancer charities have praised the "amazing" job The Wanted singer Tom Parker did raising awareness and funding for brain cancer before his death at the age of 33.

He died on Wednesday of terminal brain cancer, having told fans in October 2020 he had an inoperable tumour.

"Tom was a fantastic spokesperson, and he chose to bring attention to the lack of funding," National Brain Appeal boss Theresa Dauncey told BBC Breakfast.

"He was amazing, honest and positive."

Ms Dauncey said Parker drew attention to "solutions and treatments over the over his illness", saying "so many people would have just shut the doors, locked everyone out and wanted to just stick with their family and friends".

Instead, the singer "got people together, made a documentary, had a concert [and] brought so many people's attention to this sort of terrible lack of awareness".

'Tom was a special bloke'

Anthony Owen's son Roux was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2019, when he was just four weeks old.

Parker reached out to the family after they began documenting Roux's journey on social media.

"He used to send us messages of support when we were in hospital," said Owen, who was among the listeners who got in touch with BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday to discuss how they had been affected by the singer's openness about his cancer journey.

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"He would keep in touch with my wife over Instagram asking how he was. [Tom] was a special bloke really."

Roux is now two years old and a "happy child", his dad said. His last few scans have been "stable" but has been left with delayed development, epilepsy and is undergoing assessment for cerebral palsy.

Ms Dauncey said it was "incredible that he was so public about his illness, and that he was happy to share his journey".

The singer had said he did not want to talk about "fighting or battling with cancer", but the charity chief executive added: "But in a way, he was because he was, you know, he was shouting about it.

"And I think there must be so many people who had never thought about it before."

Susan Short, professor of clinical oncology and neuro-oncology at the University of Leeds, said Parker's medical condition was "challenging to deal with, even more so when you're in the public eye".

"It must be very difficult to know how to handle that but he did an amazing job," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It is important that individuals like him help us raise the profile of this disease and let the public know that there are these tumours that are still very challenging to treat."

She said in terms of fundraising for "vital" research, the goal was to "try and move the field on an improved the output of these patients".

"Tom and the band did that," she said.

Brain tumours

  • Parker had been diagnosed with an aggressive grade four tumour known as a glioblastoma
  • More than 12,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumours in the UK every year, and around a quarter are glioblastomas
  • Common symptoms of brain tumours include headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, mental or behavioural changes such as memory problems or changes in personality, progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body and vision or speech problems
  • Treatments depend on a range of factors about the tumour but can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, medicines to help with symptoms and steroids
  • Parker had chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and went to Spain for what was described as "revolutionary" treatment, but his tumour was inoperable
  • Brain cancer survival in England is statistically highest for people diagnosed aged under 40

Parker spoke to the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours in December, telling them: "I'm staggered they can find a cure for Covid within a year but, for decades on end, they haven't found better treatments let alone a cure for brain tumours.

On Wednesday, his wife Kelsey Hardwick, who had two young children with the late singer, wrote on social media: "Thank you to everyone who has supported in his care throughout, he fought until the very end. I'm forever proud of you."

Stand Up To Cancer UK, who Parker raised money for through a charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall, said: "We're so sorry to hear about the death of Tom Parker. Our thoughts are with his wife Kelsey and their family."

Brain Tumour Research sent their "deepest condolences to Kelsey, their children and all of Tom's loved ones", adding: "His loss will be greatly felt by his bandmates from The Wanted, their fans and throughout the pop world."

Hugh Adams, head of the organisation's stakeholder relations, said Parker speaking so "openly and honestly" had "helped to raise awareness of the devastation caused by brain tumours".

"We remember Tom for his passion, intelligence, eloquence and determination in the face of such adversity and will continue to remember him as we focus on our vision of finding a cure for all types of brain tumours," he added.