Bright, funny and popular with his peers, Sam’s world was changed forever when he suddenly collapsed one day.
Diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme a grade 4 cancerous brain tumour in March 2009, the impact of his tumour imploding and causing a massive bleed on his brain was so devastating that he was left unable to see, speak, walk or move his right arm. His memory had also been wiped clean, so he was left unable to read or write. Sam White was just 12 years old.
But, being Sam, he decided this was a ‘good challenge’ and he was going to beat it!
Several delicate surgeries and lots of physio meant he was able to finally get out of bed and into a wheelchair. Now he relearnt to talk, walk, feed himself, get himself dressed and do all the ordinary things he was able to do before…just in time to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy…. an unusual goal, but it was one Sam had set himself.
During his long journey of recovery, Sam quickly realised that there were few treatments for children with tumours and especially brain tumours.
Those that were available were generally scaled down versions of the ones used in adult patients and no-one was really sure of the effects of these on developing young bodies.
He also saw that not many people were aware of brain tumours in children and young people, and as the survival rate was not that good, getting the interest of people in general wasn’t easy . So, typical Sam, he decided to change that!
Over the next two years, as Sam recovered, he lobbied in the House of Commons, spoke to an assembly at Parliament in Brussels, and had given several tours of the hospital he now knew so well. All this while relearning to read and write so he could return to school and resume his studies.
In addition, Sam made films for jtvc, went sailing with the Ellen McArthur Trust, and learnt to ‘fly’ a hovercraft. All fun for a 14 year old boy!
Everywhere that Sam went, he touched people’s lives and hearts with his fabulous smile. He even smiled all the way as he abseiled 90 feet from the roof of the hospital, as you do! Just another fun-filled fund-raising day for our Sam.
Sam was focused and determined. He would say: “We all needed to recognise this awful cancer and support research and treatments, we should all do something, anything to make a difference, we need to beat it or what was the point?” And indeed, Sam as always, had a point.
In March 2012, we were told Sam’s tumour had returned, so more surgery was performed, and on the day of the surgery we heard Sam had been chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Newark. Now that was some incentive for Sam to get out of bed!
2012 turned into an amazing year for Sam. Once more Sam relearnt to walk and read.
Sam had to travel every four weeks to Belgium for treatment and while he was there spoke with Glenis Willmott MEP. Sam persuaded her to start talks on the Clinical Trials Directive and he was even there on the very first discussions. The new laws come into place soon, well done Sam!
Sam found time to go sailing again and helped launch the Impact Campaign at Nottingham University.
He instigated funding for research into immunotherapy in the UK so others didn’t have to travel to different countries for treatment as he had, and that treatment is now on the horizon for many more children suffering from brain tumours.
Sam was an inspiring and wonderful son, he was sadly unable to meet his last challenge in September 2013 and died very peacefully as the result of an infection. He had said to us that if he was no longer here he would expect that we carry on with his campaigning and fund raising because if we didn’t what had been the point in all he did? He knew a cure would never happen in time for him, but that didn’t matter, it would happen some day. So very much to the point, and so very Sam.
And that is why there is the Sam White Legacy.
We are continuing the work that Sam began and trying to make a difference by supporting research and pioneering treatments into childhood brain tumours, and with help one day we’re going to beat it…for Sam.