An online blogger from Weston who has a rare form of aggressive and terminal cancer has described the staff at Weston Hospicecare as ‘beautiful, lovely and welcoming people’ who help alleviate intense pain caused by his tumours.
Dan Thomas (pictured left) is 32 years old and is known as PeeWeeToms on the internet where more than 20 million people around the globe follow his story on social media every month. His blog has recounted his fight against a series of large tumours which have been caused by pleomorphic sarcomatoid carcinoma.
Dan says he is amazed he is still alive. But although he concedes there is a very slim chance of survival or long-term life expectancy, he refuses to give up battling against his condition and he vows to continue to have fun every single day.
To date, he has had surgical intervention, chemotherapy and experimental trials in an attempt to reduce the size of the tumours and treat his condition.
He said: “Every type of treatment has been exhausted and my ethos now is if it doesn’t help me, it’ll help doctors understand how to help someone else in the future.
“I had some experimental treatment in Surrey at the Cancer Research Institute with the Royal Marsden Hospital and I went through a phase one trial but unfortunately they stopped the trial because my biliary duct became cancerous and caused me to fail lots of tests. I am now ineligible for any trials because my cancers have literally gone too far in the last couple of weeks; it is now seriously bad.”
Dan recalls the moment he was first told about the seriousness of his condition, saying it left him numb – but adding it also prompted an urge to research his condition, something he feels has kept him alive for longer than expected.
He said: “I sat back and my brain started to tick, the clockwork started going and I jumped on my computer. The internet is evil, don’t look up symptoms, it is not worth it.
“Research is important and luckily I know how to carry out medical research which has allowed me to find out lots of information to help me survive longer.
“I shouldn’t have lived past April so to get to now is amazing, even the hospital said it was amazing. I have never faltered on my position of ‘I’m going to beat this’. I still haven’t given up, it’s not over until the fat lady sings.”
He says the key to his attitude is to keep having fun with everything he does and to be open with his family.
He said: “I have a normal family; my mum and dad are still happily married after 40 years, my older brother plays the drums for The Joy Formidable and I also have a younger brother. We never used to be close but now we are closer than ever due to the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in.”
Luckily Dan was well enough to attend Reading Festival this year to see his brother play the drums on the main stage for The Joy Formidable.
Dan’s positivity is something that has become admirable and he has received plenty of plaudits online for his continued determination to fight his illness despite the terminal diagnosis from doctors.
He said: “Always search for an answer and if there’s not an answer for this then there will be an answer to some of my questions to medical professionals. And I always aim to have fun with everything I do, even if it is just sitting in bed or playing a game on my phone.
“I just refuse to get stuck in a rut and accept cancer is my day-to-day mundane life. I like to try and be happy and weird, I like to wear funky clothes and wear mismatched socks. But overall, no matter how down or depressed I get, I know there’s always something fun to do whether that be jumping in the sea or going out for a run. Whatever happens, there’s always something nice to do.”
Dan says he sometimes struggles to attend the hospice due to what it represents for him but he understands the importance of the specialist treatment and praises the clinical staff who have helped alleviate some of the pain.
He said: “I love Weston Hospicecare, everyone is so nice. I am opposed to coming here as much as possible, but sometimes I have to because things get out of control or the pain gets unbearable. The reason I am here now is because the pain is so overwhelmingly bad and I had to get some help and advice about how I can change things to alleviate the pain.
“I first came here in a couple of months ago because the doctors didn’t think I had long left and we have just kept in touch and I come in when I need help as the hospital can’t provide it for someone in my state and it is not fair to clog up A&E.
“It is important for someone like me, who is literally at the end of their life, to have this interaction and everyone here is just beautiful, lovely and welcoming. Everyone has helped me along the way, from the community nurses to the doctors.”
Dan’s story has been documented online through his PeeWeeTom’s internet presence. He has more than 120,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 6,000 page likes and followers on Facebook and Twitter combined.
Such attention has also seen messages of support from as far away as space when Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev sent Dan a video of support.
When he started to share his story in early January 2018, he says he did so because his friends didn’t believe he was seriously ill.
He said: “I started vlogging on 11 January 2018 because my friends didn’t believe I had a really serious form of cancer.
“It has been a way of documenting my life and my funny side, although the vlog is now taking a turn for the darker side as my condition deteriorates.
“These are instances people wouldn’t have necessarily seen before because I have rarely filmed them. When I am writing I am sometimes crying or I am upset due to the pain, these are raw emotions.
“I have such a huge following now and there are so many lovely people who have a vested interest in me and the cancer. It is nice but at the same time I tell myself ‘Dan, you’ve got to document this to the end’ and in my will we have stated my older brother will take over the channel to document the aftermath of my death and to show the fulfilment of my dreams I’ve been unable to carry out myself.
“You guys (at the hospice) are awesome and have helped me so much and I don’t see myself as someone who is any different from anyone else, I just try to promote happiness to bring smiles to other people’s faces.”
To follow Dan’s journey, visit www.peeweetoms.com or follow him on social media by searching for PeeWeeToms.