This loving father served as his ill daughter’s hero up until the day he died.
After raising $750,000 for 6-year-old Kelli’s cancer treatment, Tom Attwater died from a brain tumor on Tuesday afternoon, the Daily Mirror reported. While Attwater, from Pattingham in West Midlands, England, had been fighting cancer himself for about three years, he relentlessly dedicated his energy and love to fundraising for his daughter’s treatment, along with penning a beautiful note to Kelli before his death.
“But while your old dad is still around I thought I’d try to give you some life advice in one go. I hope it gives you some comfort,” the 32-year-old wrote in the letter published by the Mirror. “I hope cancer never returns so that your life is long, fulfilled and happy.”
Kelli, who is Attwater's step-daughter, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2009 when she was less than 1 year old. She underwent numerous surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy, which subsided the illness only briefly before returning six months later. Treatments for relapsed neuroblastoma are expensive, so Attwater, alongside his wife, Joely, launched the Kelli Smith Appeal, with the goal of raising 500,000 British pounds (about $750,000), according to the organization’s site. Despite the need for his own medical treatments after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012, the Birmingham Mail reported, Attwater continued to push forward for his little girl’s life.
“I may only have around three years to live. But Kelli has said to me, ‘Daddy, I have beaten cancer twice, you can do it as well,” Attwater told the news outlet in a 2013 interview. “Before my time runs out I have to do everything possible to help Kelli. We know 500,000 [pounds] is a huge sum to raise, but we really need to do it.”
Attwater achieved his fundraising goal, before dying on Sept. 29. In an emotional post on the Kelli Smith Appeal Facebook page, Joely shared the sad news.
“Tom was my hero and I can't even comprehend how I am supposed to live the rest of my life without my best friend,” she wrote. “It also saddens me to know our children will have to grow up without their father around.”
Joely has since set up a fundraiser in Tom’s memory dedicated to brain tumor research. To donate to the fund, click here.
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