HAVING more children seemed impossible for pop star Tom Parker this time last year.
The Wanted singer had just been told he had an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumour, which has an average survival rate of 12 to 18 months, and had to process the unthinkable while his wife Kelsey was nine months pregnant with their second child.
Yet 12 months on, in her first newspaper interview since receiving the devastating news, the 31-year-old tells The Sun that not only is Tom’s diagnosis looking more positive but they are even talking about having a baby to join daughter Arelia, two, and 11-month-old son Bodhi.
Kelsey says: “I’ve always wanted four children so I think we’ll try again in a year or two. The kids have been a saving grace for us during this time. They are our reason to get up and face every day.”
Tom, 33, was tearful last week as he stood on stage at The Royal Albert Hall with his band as they played for the first time in seven years, with proceeds going to Stand Up To Cancer and The National Brain Appeal.
Looking healthier than he had in months, he told the cheering crowd: “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Tom then singled out Kelsey, who had been by his side during the darkest days, telling her: “I love you so much.
"You have been my rock and I don’t know what I’d have done without you.”
After finishing his latest radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Tom’s tumour has shrunk significantly. He is in no pain and he and Kelsey are happily living the busy life that comes with having a young family.
But it has not been plain sailing.
Kelsey says: “Twelve months ago we were in a dark, dark place. I’d never have imagined The Wanted would be back together or that Tom would have just performed a sell-out gig for Stand Up To Cancer.
“Of course, our life will never be the same again as we’re now living with cancer every day. But I’m so proud of him — he’s a superhero.”
Tom met actress Kelsey at a Christmas party 11 years ago. The pair quickly became inseparable, travelling the world with The Wanted until the band’s hiatus in January 2014. They married in 2018 and had Arelia the following year.
Yet a few months later, when Kelsey was pregnant with Bodhi, easy-going Tom became quieter than usual and occasionally snapped over minor things.
I’m so proud of him — he’s a superhero.
Kelsey, now an entrepreneur and influencer, says: “I thought it was depression. When I was pregnant he sort of lost his head a bit. He was overthinking how his life was going to change when he became a dad, stressing about how he had to provide and earn money.”
Tom was also experiencing ear pain and had a seizure — put down to the beginnings of an infection. His second seizure, in August 2020, proved a lot more severe. Kelsey was 35 weeks pregnant and the pair were on holiday in Norfolk. Unwell Tom went to lie down.
Kelsey explains: “I went to check him and he had that second seizure when I was in the room. He had said his hands were sweaty and in the next moment he was uncontrollably shaking and rigid.”
Tom was taken to Cambridge hospital. After spending three days there Kelsey was driving to see him when she got a call that turned her world upside down.
She explains: “Tom was crying hysterically, telling me doctors had just said he had a brain tumour. He was convinced he was going to die. I guess I was shocked and just wanted to face it head on. I told him ‘Don’t worry, we’ll deal with it’.” Tom was transferred to King’s College Hospital in London for a biopsy, with a three-week wait for the results.
Kelsey says: “I was walking around like a zombie 24/7 and felt sick with anxiety. I don’t think I ate for weeks. I couldn’t sleep but I didn’t cry either.”
'The darkest day of my life'
Tom endlessly researched brain tumours, praying it was not a glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Yet his worst fears were realised. In September 2020 Kelsey had a call from a nurse saying they needed to come into King’s to talk.
She says: “Throughout this whole year of ups and downs, that Monday has been the darkest day of my life. We were told it was a glioblastoma and my jaw hit the floor. I was covered in sweat as Tom was asking, ‘Am I going to die? When?’
“The doctor’s words have stuck with me since that day. He said, ‘We’re all unique. People live for five, ten, 15, 20 years with a brain tumour. We’ll just have to see’. Tom was so shell-shocked, he couldn’t even walk out of the hospital. That’s where we differ. He was in pieces and I just wanted to face it head-on, get through it, but Tom could only think the worst.” The weeks that followed, Kelsey describes as “absolutely brutal.”
They decided to tell the world what Tom was facing via social media. Kelsey says: “Tom needed that support from his fans. I always say to him, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, and the messages of support and love he got from around the world was just amazing.”
Stars including One Direction’s Liam Payne, Sir Rod Stewart, Geordie Shore’s Marnie Simpson and Towie’s James Argent also reached out to the dad of two, which Kelsey says was exactly what he needed. The journey wasn’t easy. Tom endured six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Some of his hair started to fall out so he shaved it off. His weight dropped to eight and a half stone, which left him exhausted, ill and fighting infections. When he posted photos on Instagram during treatments looking frail, heartbroken fans rallied round.
He was also heartbroken that he didn’t have the energy to be a hands-on dad.
Kelsey adds: “He’s a pop star at the end of the day and when he shaved his head, it was the saddest thing. He was so upset. He was also heartbroken that he didn’t have the energy to be a hands-on dad.”
On October 20, 2020, while Tom was going through radiotherapy, Kelsey gave birth to Bodhi two weeks before her due date. She says: “I think the stress of everything made him come early. Luckily the birth went smoothly and Tom was able to be by my side. When we got Bodhi home, Tom tried to help as much as he could but he was only given one day off from his radiotherapy course.
“It was tough as he was utterly drained and used to say to me, ‘I can’t be their dad and I just want to be a dad’. It really upset him. He’s determined to see them grow up. We have never talked about the prospect of him dying — we just can’t go there.”
Despite the stress of dealing with two kids under two, as well as a husband fighting a crippling brain tumour, Kelsey says she never crumbled. She says: “I never felt like I was going to crack. It’s been brutal and there were times where I felt so frustrated and upset for Tom. It was things like I desperately wanted him to eat and tried so hard by making him anything he wanted. But he had no appetite.
"There were days when I’d get annoyed at people’s pity, too, and I’d hate it when people call me ‘an inspiration’. I know people mean well but Tom is my husband and I married him for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. I’d hope he’d do the same for me. I am a strong character and we are getting through it. I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. It’s our life — we are living it every day.”
Tom is now out of treatment and won’t need any checks until November. The band are due to go on tour in March 2022, and while she is beyond excited about the shows, Kelsey admits she has reservations about Tom. She says: “Of course I worry and panic every day that it will be too much for him. And what if he has another seizure and I’m not there? But I know the tour will be amazing for him and I can’t wait to join the band.
What we’re striving for is Tom to be NED, which stands for ‘No Evidence of Disease’.
"He’ll go back in a few months for a scan and we’ll go from there. We’re processing it but he’s not in any pain. He has side-effects. His short-term memory is awful.
"He forgot his suitcase when we went on a recent trip to Cornwall. And he’s lost some of the feeling in his left arm, but we’re in a good place. What we’re striving for is Tom to be NED, which stands for ‘No Evidence of Disease’.
“For Tom to be in that position would be a dream come true. “But I’m a realist, so we’ll just take life day by day for now and enjoy it.”
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