Dad-of-two who beat cancer as teen now works for hospital that saved his life - and is raising thousands to help treat kids
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A dad-of-two who beat cancer as a teen has landed a job at the hospital which saved his life - and is raising thousands of pounds to treat unwell children.
Tom Benton, 37, was forced to relearn how to walk again after spending years of his teenage life in hospital fighting a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
He began his two-year stay on the ward at Sheffield Children's Hospital aged 14, before undergoing three years further treatment for his acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
After five years of hospital visits - including intense bouts of chemotherapy - Tom went into remission and has gone on to live a full life.
Now he has landed himself a job at the hospital he thanks for saving him.
He has also pledged to run for 1,400 minutes - one minute for every child diagnosed with the cancer in the UK each year - to raise money for a new cancer ward at the hospital.
‘Working there would let me pay back the trust’
Tom, from Sheffield, said: "I’m always wanting to better myself and do the best for my family.
"But I can’t say I wasn’t a little emotional and reflective of the time I spent there as a child and how working there would let me pay the trust back a little for the amazing work they do today and the amazing treatment they gave to me and my family."
In October 1998, Tom's mum Liz, 62, and dad Glyn, 64, were told the devastating news their 14-year-old son had leukaemia.
It is caused by a genetic mutation which releases immature white blood cells into the bloodstream. It progresses with speed and aggression, requiring immediate treatment.
Until the 1960s childhood leukaemia was incurable.
‘The treatment involved large doses of chemotherapy’
The family spent the next five years in and out of hospital before Tom entered remission in 2001.
Recalling his diagnosis Tom said: “I was very tired. I had aches, pains and a platelet rash all over my body.
"The treatment involved large doses of chemotherapy, which made me really sick.
“I was very down so I wouldn’t get out of bed or see anyone. This led to my leg muscle wasting away and I had to build it back up to walk again.
“I remember a Sheffield Wednesday player visited the ward and sat with me for ages. It brought me around and gave me the urge to kick on.
“The staff on the ward were amazing too and very accommodating, allowing one of my parents to stay with me for most of the time.
"Although it was a hospital ward and a really sad time in my life, I remember feeling calm and at ease whenever I was there."
‘Help with the treatment of others’
Tom was eventually discharged in 2001 and has gone on to start a life with wife Kelly, 34, and kids Rose, five, and one-year-old Joni.
Now, 22 years later, Tom has landed himself a job at the hospital in e-systems - monitoring data and administration.
Tom added: “I’ve always liked the idea of raising money for the cancer and leukaemia ward and then I saw a post on social media about the new ward, so I jumped at the thought.
“The ward was very basic, but we did have the playroom as well as books and games consoles for the older children.
"There weren’t many single rooms, I always tried to get one but was rarely successful because other patients needed them more.
"It’s a sense of satisfaction to know that I can support Sheffield Children’s in some way by devoting my working life to help the treatment and rehabilitation of others.
"Although I am not on the frontline treating patients, e-Systems are a vital cog in the administration and management of systems throughout the trust."
You can donate to Tom's 1400 minute run via his JustGiving page.