The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
Posted by

“I dedicate every try to my dad and still write to him as if we’re having a post-game chat"

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
Posted by
25 Sep 2019

As the rugby season kicks off, Alex explains how the memories of his dad, who lost his life to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, spur him forward on the pitch.

Even when you know it’s coming nothing can prepare you for death

My mum, sister and I were extremely grateful to have close family with us at the hospital when Dad died.

We were never alone. A never-ending stream of love and support came from our closest friends’ visits. Everyone was incredibly thoughtful. We would regularly arrive home from long days and nights at hospital, to endless food waiting on the doorstep.

My dad was first diagnosed with ALL – acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – in December 2013.

He’d noticed that several bruises and small cuts on his hands and feet hadn’t healed.  He mentioned the bruises at a routine check-up for prostate cancer and was sent for an immediate blood test. Five months later he had a stem cell transplant from his twin sister, but unfortunately his body never accepted it and as a result he suffered chronic side effects.

Spending time with my dad

It was really tough for me when he was sick, especially as I was in London for rugby and my family lived in Bristol. I took any opportunity I could to drive home and spend time with Dad at hospital.

For most of his treatment, he was in isolation because he was at high risk of infection. This meant he had very little energy and would sleep a lot, but I always enjoyed being able to sit with him and occasionally talk about our favourite subject – Rugby.

My dad died almost two years later. He was 57 years old and I was just 23.

My dad was often the life and soul of the party

He was ‘Mr Happy Go Lucky’ and was never scared to dress up. My favourite memory of my dad is his all-round attitude to life.

He was my biggest rugby fan and he didn’t keep it a secret.

He wasn’t afraid to express his pride in my achievements and share it with the world. I often found him posting updates of my rugby career on Facebook. Whether it was a new pair of boots or a driving me home, Dad would do whatever he could to support me.

Rugby has always been a part of me and I owe it all to my family

I dedicate every try to my dad, write him notes on my wrist tape before every match and sometimes write notes to him after as if we’re having a post-game chat.

My family, especially my Dad, are the reasons why I play Rugby and every day I strive to make them proud.

Need to talk about blood cancer? Contact our free, confidential support team on 0808 2080 888 for emotional or practical support or join our online community.

Watch: Alex challenges Simon Thomas to take on a rugby training session

Make a donation

I would like to give...