Posted on Thursday 8 August 2019

in News

Dad takes on Great North Run after being inspired by his four-year-old son’s shocking cancer journey

A Nottingham father is taking on the Great North Run next month to raise vital funds for CLIC Sargent after the charity supported his family when his son was diagnosed with leukaemia, aged just four years old.

Dad Thom with his son Zeke whilst he was on treatment. Thom is running the Great North Run to raise vital funds for CLIC Sargent

Thom Bolton, 32, from Awsworth, will be putting himself through his paces to run 13.1 miles on Sunday 8th September, for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer.

Thom signed up for the challenge after the charity supported his son Zeke during his gruelling cancer journey. The date of the race also has a special meaning for the family as it falls during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Thom said: “I had seen how awful treatment was for Zeke, and thought how can I do something to challenge myself. Zeke rang the end of treatment bell in December and it’s now nearly four years since he was first diagnosed. I’m going back to work in September and I thought the Great North Run would be a nice way to round it all off.”

Thom, a civil servant, was forced to take a career break to take care of his son Zeke when he was diagnosed. The family first noticed something wasn’t right in October 2015 when Zeke was sent home from school with what they then thought was a fever.

“We thought it was just a sickness bug, but then he didn’t get better. We wouldn’t usually take him to hospital but we decided to because we were getting more concerned. By 2.30am the next morning we were told he had sepsis and leukaemia.

“The impact on our family of the diagnosis was huge – you just never think it is going to be you. Realising your life is completely going to change hits you like a bus, and then you eventually get on with your new normal.”

Zeke had intensive chemotherapy at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham, during which time Thom and Zeke’s mum took it in turns to be off work and look after him.

“Zeke was amazing with the treatment. He took it in his stride. We just adapted as if it was a normal thing. He had days when he wasn’t a fan of the treatment but he liked going to see the nurses in hospital.

“He lost all use of his legs on one type of chemotherapy and suffered from hair loss. He was in a wheelchair and had to learn how to walk again.”

During Zeke’s treatment, his parents struggled financially to deal with the hidden costs of cancer.

“He put on so much weight with steroids, some days he was just constantly eating because of the drugs. We had to have fuel in the car for our trips to the hospital and for emergencies but we would be waiting for our Disability Living Allowance to come through to help. We had to wait three and a half months for DLA, so the grant we received from CLIC Sargent really helped but we just scrimped, begged and borrowed.”

During the difficult time, the family were supported by a CLIC Sargent social worker who provides practical, emotional and financial support to families at the hospital.

“Our social worker Tamsin made life a lot easier and just sorted practical things out for us – which let us concentrate on the care and looking after Zeke rather than how we were going to have money. If you’re worried about money you can’t think of anything else.

“She was someone to talk to. Whatever went wrong, she was there. I don’t think we would have got through the first few months without her, let alone the first few years.”

CLIC Sargent helped make our days more bearable. I honestly don’t know how we would have managed without the support.”

With Zeke, now 8, back at school and ‘excelling’ in year three, Thom is determined to give something back by running the  Great North Run for CLIC Sargent.

“When Zeke started to get better I needed something to do, I had no reason to leave the house, so I took up running.”

Thom has taken on a Tough Mudder, the London Landmarks Half Marathon and is now hoping to complete the Great North Run for CLIC Sargent during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The charity is campaigning during September to raise awareness of the hidden costs of cancer for families like those Thom faced.

“From all of our fundraising we have now raised about £11,000 in total. CLIC Sargent helped make our days more bearable. I honestly don’t know how we would have managed without the support.”

To sponsor and support Thom’s Great North Run, visit

Notes to editors

For more information about CLIC Sargent please contact Jessica Rees at or call 0117 311 2659.

About cancer in children and young people

Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About CLIC Sargent

When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.

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