'The Wanted' Singer Tom Parker Reveals He Has an Inoperable Brain Tumor on Instagram
He was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma—here's what that means.
Tom Parker, a British singer, formerly of the band 'The Wanted' revealed on Monday that he was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, for which he's currently undergoing treatment.
The 32-year-old shared the news in an Instagram post, featuring his wife Kelsey Hardwick and their 15-month-old daughter Aurelia. "Hey guys, you know that we've both been quiet on social media for a few weeks and it's time to tell you why," Parker wrote. "There's no easy way to say this but I've sadly been diagnosed with a Brain Tumour and I'm already undergoing treatment."
Parker, who announced in May that he and his wife are expecting their second child, a boy, added that they were "all absolutely devastated." However, he vowed to "fight this all the way," and said they didn't want sadness, just "love and positivity."
The young dad also spoke to British magazine OK! about his diagnosis, revealing he was officially diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma, explaining, "We decided, after a lot of thought, that rather than hiding away and trying to keep it a secret, we would do one interview where we could lay out all the details and let everyone know the facts in our own way."
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In the interview, Parker revealed that he experienced weeks of "bizarre and unexplained seizures" over the summer. After three days in the hospital having medical tests, his doctors told him the news was "the worst case scenario"—the average life expectancy for his illness ranges from three months to 18 months after diagnosis. The singer is now having radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatment to try to prolong his life.
The other members of The Wanted—Jay McGuiness, Siva Kaneswaran, Max George, and Nathan Sykes—have been a huge support to the couple. "Obviously all the boys were as shocked as we were," Parker said. "They are gutted by the news, but they've been incredibly supportive. Jay has been round to see us a few times since we got the news and is reading up on everything he can and Max was here last week. Siva and Nathan obviously live a lot further away, but all four of the boys have been texting regularly and sending through different articles and possible treatments and therapies that they're all reading about."
What is a grade 4 glioblastoma?
According to the National Cancer Institute, glioblastoma is a type of brain tumor called an astrocytoma, so-called because it is formed of star-shaped cells called astrocytes. It's the most common form of brain cancer in adults, accounting for 35-40% of malignant brain tumors. It's typically an aggressive type of cancer, although it rarely spreads to other parts of the body, and tends to occur in active, otherwise healthy people—most frequently males.
As well as the seizures Parker experienced, glioblastoma symptoms include headache, memory problems, weakness on one side of the body, difficulty thinking and speaking, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Some people experience sudden, acute symptoms, while others become aware of more gradual changes, such as problems with language, concentration, or coordination and strength on one side of the body.
In most cases, the underlying cause of glioblastoma is unknown, per the Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center. In rare cases, they can occur in people with genetic syndromes like neurofibromatosis type 1, Turcot syndrome, and Li Fraumeni syndrome. Most glioblastomas, per the GARD, are not inherited, and can occur sporadically in those with no family history of tumors.
Brain tumors are graded from one to four, with a lower grade tumor carrying the better prognosis, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The "grade four" part of Parker's diagnosis means it is the fastest growing grade of tumor, meaning it is more likely to spread to other parts of the brain, may come back even after intensive treatment, and cannot usually be treated by surgery alone.
People live an average of just 14.6 months after being diagnosed with glioblastoma, Brian Alexander, MD, director of CNS radiation oncology at the Dana Farber Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston, previously told Health. However, there are always exceptions. "I have had patients living eight years and patients who passed the 10 years margin, I think we all have," Adilia Hormigo, PhD, director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at Mount Sinai and Mount Sinai Health System, previously told Health. "We give hope to the patients based on those cases."
Despite everything, Parker remains optimistic. "Together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options," he wrote on Instagram. "It's gonna be a tough battle but with everyone's love and support we are going to beat this."
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