A Bedford man who is fighting an aggressive brain tumour has become a dad for the first time - welcoming baby Alfie to the world just weeks after his devastating diagnosis.
Little Alfie Dilley was born at Bedford Hospital, weighing 7lbs 3oz.
The tot arrived eight days after his due date to be born just after 9pm on December 11 - and has brought untold joy to new parents Adam, 30, and Tasha, 26, who just weeks earlier were dealt the devastating blow that Adam has a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
On 7 October, Adam, who lives in Wixams, was rushed to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department in Bedford after an optician at Specsavers in Biggleswade discovered a mass behind his left eye.
Adam said: “My surgeon got most of the tumour but the chances are that it will return, maybe within three or four years rather than the 12 to 18 months we were first told. It gives us something to hold on to.”
Becoming parents has also given the couple something positive to focus on.
Alfie was born just two days before Adam began a six-week course of daily radiotherapy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, with concurrent chemotherapy.
He finishes radiotherapy this week and will then have a month’s break before starting a longer course of higher-dose chemotherapy.
Adam said: “Thanks to Alfie, we’re not getting much sleep and my treatment makes me tired too but he is good as gold during the day and we are completely besotted with him.
"I’m not able to work at the moment but the positive side of that is that I’m spending lots of quality time at home bonding with Alfie. I’m counting my blessings.”
Tasha, a self-employed beautician, added: “Alfie is doing really well; he weighs 10lbs now and seems to be thriving.
"Adam has been amazing throughout his treatment so far, even though he’s lost his hair and suffered with nausea.
"His liver function has been affected by the chemo, so that treatment has been paused for two weeks but otherwise, it’s gone as well as we could’ve hoped.”
The community in Shefford, where Adam and Tasha grew up, continues to support the new parents by fundraising via a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the costs associated with Adam’s diagnosis.
Meanwhile, Adam’s dad, 62-year-old Mark Dilley is also supporting Brain Tumour Research by taking part in the charity’s 10,000 Steps a Day in February challenge.
Mark, who lives wife his wife Wendy in Shefford, said: “I doubt I would survive a half marathon or anything as strenuous as that, so taking on this daily walking challenge is my way of contributing to this great cause.
“Alfie is our second grandchild – a cousin to our other grandson, Luca – and we are overjoyed to welcome him into the family but of course, it is bitter-sweet, given what Adam and Tasha are going through.
“Wendy and I are so proud of Adam. He’s coped well with treatment, all while taking on the daunting new role of being a dad. Not only that, he’s also been raising awareness of the disease by featuring in the BBC Two documentary series ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ and more recently, in ITV’s Tonight programme, which highlighted the difficulties patients like Adam faced trying to get a GP appointment during the pandemic. He really is amazing.”
Family business Abacus Workplace Supplies, where Mark is a partner, is also donating £1 from every box of 50 face masks and 500ml hand sanitiser sold to Brain Tumour Research, along with all proceeds from its toner recycling scheme.
The support doesn’t stop there, as Tasha’s mum, Carol White, a 58-year-old school librarian from Henlow, will also be joining Mark by taking part in 10,000 Steps a Day in February with her 14-year-old whippet, Riley.
She said: “I saw the challenge advertised on Facebook and knew straight away I wanted to get involved.
"Having read the dreadful statistics surrounding brain tumours and having found out about the severe lack of funding in this area of cancer research, I’m keen to do my bit. I’m reading lots of other heart-breaking stories about young people, in particular, affected by this awful disease, it’s shocking.
“Alfie is our first grandchild; my husband Chris and I are totally in love with him. Tasha and Adam are so grounded and have taken to parenthood brilliantly. Like Mark and Wendy, we’re extremely proud of them.”
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.