Noosa Triathlon with Team Smiddy is more than just a swim, ride and run.
For Smiddy triathlete Tom Leworthy, this is personal.
Tom will line up on the sand in Noosa eyeing off a sub-2:20 finish. His wife Siobhan, and children Eva (11), Remi (5) and Rae (2) will be cheering him on.
The “hurt locker” for Tom is relative—knowing he would likely not even be alive today without the ongoing cancer research advancements your fundraising enables.
In 2015, Tom was living in Abu Dhabi with his young family. He was fit, healthy and in the prime of his life—before his world was tipped on its head.
“I was out cycling, and I remember noticing three big lumps under my left arm,” Tom explains.
“I had a biopsy and a scan, to check what was causing the lumps.”
For days, he waited anxiously for his results. The lumps turned out to be Stage 3 metastatic melanoma.
In an instant—36-year-old Tom’s world life changed instantly.
“I was told I’d need to leave the Middle East as there was no treatment available for me in Abu Dhabi. I went to hospital for an operation to remove the lymph nodes under my left arm, and two weeks later I returned home to Australia.”
“I was extremely worried for Siobhan, she was pregnant with our second child Remi. My parents and eldest child, Eva, were also very upset and worried. As a husband, son and a dad, you don’t like to see your family upset.”
Following surgery, Tom was put on an immunotherapy treatment—but unfortunately it didn’t go to plan.
“I began immunotherapy a month after arriving home. After 10 months, I developed severe rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes, so I ceased treatment—but three months later, a nodule grew in my right lung. Six months later, a large metastasis was found in my bowel. At this point, the cancer had progressed to Stage 4.”
Stage 4 almost certainly means the cancer has turned terminal—and survival rates are incredibly low.
“I was given 12 months life expectancy. Determined to keep going, I went back on treatment, despite the severe side effects .”
Tom persevered—he had to. The thought of leaving behind his young family was not an option. Despite how difficult the cancer treatment was and severe side effects – Tom had to fight!
“I am not going to lie, I struggled more so mentally than physically throughout this journey. But I always try to keep a positive mind.”
Positivity and hope are powerful things.
“On my next scan, the cancer was all gone. I have been cancer-free ever since—but I’m still taking the treatment. My odds of relapse are 50 per cent.”
Tom is lucky. He was able to access treatments that were not available only 5 or 10 years ago. This illustrates why—with Mater Smiling for Smiddy—it’s about more than the finish line.
"My symptoms mirrored Adam Smiddy's," Tom reflects. "I wonder what would have happened if Adam had access to the new treatments I've been lucky to receive. Continued research to find a cure is so important."
These advancements have given Tom time to nurture and grow his family. And to resume triathlons in a bid to keep his body and mind strong to fight future health hurdles.
After clocking 2:30 and 2:28 in 2018 and 2019, Tom is gunning for a PB this year, hoping to shave some time off a 2:21 effort he netted prior to his initial diagnosis.
Tom’s fight is not over, but he is thankful for the opportunities he has been given thanks to research – opportunities others didn’t get.
So for Tom, when he hears the cheers from his family, he knows why he will push through the “hurt locker”.
And for you—when you hear those same cheers in Noosa—know why your fundraising efforts with Mater Smiling for Smiddy are so critically important.