On Valentine’s Day we will be hosting a Q&A with Julie Thomas, wife of former England footballer, Geoff Thomas, to talk about what it is like to see someone you love go through the experience of blood cancer. We will be doing this via our Twitter account (@beatbloodcancer). If you have any questions you would like to ask Julie - such as how she coped with Geoff’s diagnosis, the support she received from friends and family, and how much it impacted on family life - please fill in the online question form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at our Twitter account using the #askLLR.
This is Geoff’s story:
Former England International footballer Geoff Thomas built a successful career in football. He played for several top flight teams in the late 1980s and 1990s, captaining Crystal Palace to the FA Cup final in 1990, and to third place in the top flight. He soon began representing his country alongside players such as Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker and Ian Wright. Following spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crewe, and Nottingham Forest, Geoff retired in 2002.
A year in to his retirement, on the 3rd July 2003, following a spell of feeling weak, experiencing extreme night sweats, breathlessness and suffering from crippling abdominal pain, Geoff went to see his GP and had blood tests. Just hours after the visit, he received a phone call telling him to go back to the surgery. Geoff was told that he had leukaemia, and if left untreated, he could die. He was 38 years old and had two young daughters. “I was cracking up and I still had to make the hardest phone call of my life: to tell my wife, Julie, that in all probability, I hadn’t got long to live. How could I tell my wife, my soul mate, the love of my life and the person who has shared a thousand dreams or more with me, that I had leukaemia?”
After many tests, scans and consultations, Geoff decided to have a stem cell transplant. Incredibly, his sister Kay was a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant and the procedure went ahead in 2004. It saved his life.
Inspired by the bravery of patients around him and with a determination to beat blood cancers, he set up the Geoff Thomas Foundation. He was awarded the 2005 BBC Sports Personality Helen Rollason Award in recognition of his charity work.
Geoff now works with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to raise funds for a network of national research centres, allowing patients to benefit from the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers.