Wales

Therapy team help dad with cancer walk daughter down aisle

Tom Townsend (second left), Catherine James and Peter James, supported by Anthony Jones Image copyright Martin Ellard/Anthony Jones
Image caption Therapist Anthony Jones (r) supported Peter James to walk daughter Catherine down the aisle to marry Tom Townsend

A man left partly paralysed by a seizure 10 days before his daughter married was helped to walk her down the aisle by a specialist therapy team.

Peter James was being treated for a brain tumour diagnosed in August which had affected his movement and had been undergoing rehabilitation.

But the seizure in November put him in hospital and he feared he would miss out on daughter Catherine's big day.

However two therapists at Singleton Hospital in Swansea came to his rescue.

Peter, 59, a council officer from Swansea, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in the summer.

His wife Sue said: "We came back from holiday in July and he had been fine but within three days Peter couldn't drive the car.

"He had lost spatial awareness - only three days earlier he had driven back from Bristol Airport."

Image copyright Martin Ellard/Anthony Jones
Image caption Peter was able to spend the whole day at his daughter Catherine's wedding

Peter had his first scan on 1 August and was diagnosed with the tumour. Surgeons could not operate because it was in more than one place, and chemotherapy did not work so he has been having radiotherapy.

He was referred to a Macmillan therapy team, including occupational therapist Anthony Jones, who recommended hydrotherapy, and suggested Peter set a personal goal.

His daughter Catherine, who was due to marry on 6 December, said: "Being a close family, Dad's diagnosis hit us all incredibly hard. My wedding was something he was really excited about and proud of.

"He wanted more than anything to walk me down the aisle, and Anthony worked fantastically to make sure this was possible.

"The hydrotherapy proved very successful and enjoyable. Dad was up and about, walking almost normally, in no time."

Image copyright Martin Ellard/Anthony Jones
Image caption Peter had practised walking down a replica aisle in the days leading up to Catherine's wedding

Then 10 days before the wedding Peter suffered a bleed in one of the tumours, prompting the seizure which caused him to lose the use of his right arm and leg.

He was admitted to Singleton Hospital, which Catherine said was "heart-breaking", seeing him so upset.

But Anthony, along with his physiotherapist colleague Sophie Kirby, was determined to see Peter achieve his goal.

The pair walked him up and down the corridor in hospital twice a day and visited the wedding venue in Gower to see what other support they could provide.

Image copyright Martin Ellard/Anthony Jones
Image caption Anthony Jones and Sophie Kirby (r) came to the house to help Peter get ready on Catherine's wedding day

They took Peter home on the day, helped him shave and dress, and physically supported him down the aisle so he could walk with Catherine.

Sue said: "Catherine was the first of our children to be married. She's our only daughter so it was very, very important to Peter that he was able to walk her down the aisle.

"If it wasn't for Anthony and Sophie, we would never have got him there. They were amazing."

Peter was able to spend the whole day at the wedding before going back to hospital the following morning. He was discharged from hospital in time to spend Christmas at home.

Anthony said he and Sophie had tried to replicate an aisle in the hospital for Peter to practise in.

"We really wanted it to happen, and watching him walk down the aisle for real was overwhelming," he said.

"It was a career highlight for me and Sophie. It doesn't get any more rewarding than that."

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