Garndiffaith dad’s cancer fight inspires fundraising

NSPIRATION: James Head, of Garndiffaith, with his wife Emma and four-year-old son Elliot Dad’s cancer fight inspires fundraising

SPECIAL DAY: James Head and Emma on their wedding day

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

A FATHER of two who almost died after a leukaemia diagnosis has inspired the Torfaen Mayor to support a charity which helped him recover.

In September 2009, 29-year-old James Head, from Garndiffaith, visited his GP after the skin around his eye swelled like he had been hit in the face. He was prescribed antibiotics but when these failed to reduce the swelling he was referred to hospital.

MrHead explained: “They did a biopsy which revealed it was a build-up of leukaemia cells behindmyeye. It came as a massive shock. They realised that I had had acute myeloid leukaemia for a month and a half so it was critical that I got treatment immediately.”

After beginning chemotherapy and blood transfusions, there was more bad news as he contracted swine flu. Mr Head said: “I honestly thought that this was going to be it. I just wanted to come home and be with my family as I expected to die. They didn’t let me leave and I was quarantined because I was contagious.”

He got so ill that his oxygen levels dropped to just six per cent, which made him delirious, so doctors put him in an induced coma for six weeks.

During this time, as his immune system was so low, he contracted Pneumonia, Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and he was given a five per cent chance of survival. Both of his lungs collapsed and he was given a tracheotomy to aid breathing.

Mr Head said: “How I’m still here I don’t know. When I went to hospital in October 2009, I weighed ten stone and when I came out of hospital in January 2010, I weighed six.”

MrHeadwas allowedhomefor two weeks before his treatment began again. He married wife Emma in April 2010, received his final treatment in May that year, and has been in remission since. He explained that while receiving his treatment in 2010, a nurse suggested contacting The Willow Foundation, which provides seriously ill people with special days out. The family were overjoyed when the charity paid for a four-night stay at Centre Parcs, Longleat, for himself, Mrs Head and their children Toby and Elliot.

When Torfaen mayor Wayne Tomlinson heard what had happened, he decided to support the charity this year through the charity appeal fund.

Cash is already rolling in, says mayor

THE mayor of Torfaen’s charity appeal has started with great success, with funds already rolling in.

At the civic service last week, the Mayor, Cllr Wayne Tomlinson, was joined by representatives from his three chosen charities, The Willow Foundation, Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice in Wales and Alzheimer’s Society. He said: “I explained why I had chosen the charities and how I was moved by the work that each of them do. The fundraising is already well under way, and I would like to thank all those who have already donated. There will be fundraising events held throughout the year.”

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