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Norwich boy beats brain tumour and swims for charity

Tommy Simpson, 12, practising for his sponsored swim.; Photo: Bill Smith

Tommy Simpson, 12, practising for his sponsored swim.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2010

A Norwich youngster who bravely fought a brain tumour has battled back to health - and is preparing to thank the charity which helped him and his family.

Tommy Simpson, 12, was suffering frequent headaches and after tests and scans at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. He underwent a life-saving 11-hour operation in January last year then spent six weeks in hospital.

He still needs to go back to Addenbrooke’s every six months for check-ups and has been left partially sighted.

But he is now excelling at the City of Norwich School and has even arranged to do a sponsored swim next year to thank the charity that allowed his family to stay in Cambridge while he was in hospital.

Tommy’s father, Stephen Simpson, a 43-year-old builder from Robin Hood Road, Tuckswood, said the youngster had been brave throughout the ordeal. He said: “We have been so proud and pleased with him.

“The operation at Addenbrooke’s took about 11 hours and we were all tearing our hair out.

“His first words to the surgeon after the operation were ‘Thank you so much’,

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which brought a tear to our eyes. The surgeon also had a tear in his eye. We call him (the surgeon) our hero.”

Tommy’s mother Tracey, 46, who works at the nearby Co-op, said that it was a horrendous time.

“It was a hard situation to explain, as it was surreal,” she said. “Having never been through anything like that before, it was horrific.

“We spent nearly two months living with Tommy at the hospital and Tommy missed several months of school.

“But Tommy’s been brilliant. He still needs to go back every six months for head scans, because of the small residual tumour they left in his brain, to make sure there’s no change.

“The tumour sat on his pituitary gland which controls his growth, so he has an illness, called diabetes insipidus, which means that when he drinks a pint of water he then passes a pint of water. He has medication to control that.

“But throughout it all he was the only one who did not moan. He just gets on with it.”

Tommy had been diagnosed with a benign (non-cancerous) brain tumour after visiting the doctor after suffering frequent headaches. The courageous youngster said: “After scans and tests at, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

“But I have recovered extremely well which means I can get back into swimming, diving, and other contact and non-contact sports that I liked doing before.

“I’m doing so well, I now have won a silver and bronze medal in my swimming gala on November 27, and I am in the top set of my swimming group.

“I have not decided what I want to do when I grow up - either swimming or arts. I’m stuck between the two.”

The sponsored swim on February 19 next year will be in aid of the Sick Children’s Trust.

Tommy will swim 5km in a 25m pool, which he has worked out will total 200 lengths.

He said: “The Sick Children’s Trust allowed my parents to stay with me at the hospital every day and sleep next door in ‘Acorn house’ which is one of the homes funded by the trust.

“The rest of my family could visit during the day and take me over to the home so we could spend time together.

“The trust is run mostly on donations and I thought I could try and do something for them.”

The schoolboy is confident he can swim the distance, and added: “I have experienced swimming 2km at the weekend and this swim should be easy after all of my practice.

“At the moment I go swimming almost every night and occasionally go along to galas with my swimming club, Norwich Penguins, so all of this is extra training for my swim.”

Tommy’s online sponsor form is http:www.justgiving.comTommy-Simpson.

For more information visit http:www.sickchildrenstrust.orgindex.php.

Have you got a remarkable story? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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