Norfolk

Simon Thomas sets up blood cancer fund in memory of wife Gemma

Simon Thomas, centre, with Gemma and Ethan Image copyright Bloodwise
Image caption Simon Thomas said the new fund will bring "some kind of sense out of the wreckage of losing Gemma so early"

Former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas has launched a fund to raise money for research into the type of leukaemia that killed his wife.

Gemma Thomas, 40, died three days after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in November 2017.

The Gemma Thomas Fund has been set up with blood cancer charity Bloodwise, of which Thomas is a president.

He said: "I have to bring some kind of sense out of the wreckage of losing Gemma so early."

The former Blue Peter presenter, from Norwich, said it was difficult to make people aware of blood cancers because the symptoms could "be very varied, very general".

"But the simple truth is we have to," he said.

"It's the third biggest killer in the country, it's robbed Ethan of his mum, it robbed Gemma of the rest of her life, it's robbed me and my family of her.

"We can't sit around and do nothing."

Mrs Thomas had flu-like symptoms. She visited her GP three times over the course of six days and each time, she was told to go home and rest, before she was eventually diagnosed with AML.

The mother of one died on 24 November 2017.

Image copyright Bloodwise
Image caption Gemma Thomas died three days after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia

The Gemma Thomas Fund has been set up to invest in research projects which focus on improving understanding of AML and finding more effective treatments for the disease.

Bloodwise said the survival rates for the aggressive type of blood cancer were "shockingly low", with just 15% of people surviving for five years or more.

Thomas said: "This fund is going to plough money into more research so those stats, that 15% in the years to come, will rise to 30, to 40, to 50 and beyond.

"It's not going to help us but if it helps others, it's worth every moment of my time."

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