Join the Make-A-Wish UK TCS London Marathon team
Tom Starck, 25, was an energetic, sports-mad 12-year-old until he woke up one morning in 2009 with a lump on his neck. Later that same day, after several blood tests, Tom was transferred to the children’s ward at his local hospital.
“I remember going in and seeing loads of really sick children about my age,” said Tom. “I was thinking – they've sent me to the wrong ward. I shouldn’t be here.”
Sadly, Tom and his family were soon told he had Hodgkin Lymphoma – a type of cancer which develops in the networks and glands of the immune system. Tom began chemotherapy that week. The diagnosis and treatment took a toll on Tom’s mental health.
He said: “I was too young to fully understand, but I was old enough to be scared. Whenever I was taken out of school for treatments, I would look at the other kids still working and feel so jealous.
“When I was about halfway through my treatment, my mum asked what I would wish for if I could have anything. That’s when Make-A-Wish UK came in.”
Make-A-Wish UK creates life-changing wishes for children like Tom, who have a life-threatening or life-limiting condition. Tom, whose wish was for a shopping spree and a day in London with his family, said: “It might not seem like much, but it was just about doing something outside of hospital and feeling normal for the day. Remission wasn’t guaranteed, but the wish was, and so I had something to be excited about that could take my mind off all the chemo.”
Tom, his parents, and siblings travelled to London on 25 September 2009 for his wish. Tom was given a personalised pair of Nike football boots during his shopping spree, which he still has today.
He said: “It sounds so materialistic, but just having those boots made me feel really special. It made me excited to get better so that I could play football again. The whole day helped me to think positively about the future, which I honestly think contributed to my recovery.”
A few months after Tom’s wish, he was at last told that he was in remission. Now 25 and working as a Ferrari mechanic, Tom completed the 2022 TCS London Marathon in October in just 3:36:13, all to give back to Make-A-Wish UK.
“Crossing that Finish Line was my biggest wish,” said Tom. “The idea that I can help another child to have their wish come true means the world to me.”
Be a #WishHero like Tom and join the Make-A-Wish UK TCS London Marathon team today, to make help make life-changing wishes come true. To find out more, click here.