At the end of last year, we revealed that Tom Parker was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour – heartbreaking news which he told us at the time was “shocking” and “hard” to take in.
The Wanted star has since revealed his body is reacting well to treatment and that his tumour had 'reduced significantly' – here, we give OK! VIP Club members an exclusive insight into the star and his wife Kelsey's life after welcoming their baby boy Bodhi in October.
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We sat down with the couple in November, and were pleased to see the family were in a much better place mentally thanks to the welcome arrival of their newborn baby Bodhi Thomas Paris Parker, who they couldn't wait to introduce to the world.
Their little one made an early appearance, arriving a couple of weeks before Kelsey’s due date, and it’s clear the family, including their 16-month-old daughter Aurelia, are completely in love with the beautiful boy.
“He just slotted straight into the family,” a besotted Kelsey tells us.
“He’s so chilled,” Tom adds.
Because Kelsey had to be induced, she wasn’t able to have the home birth she always wanted, but a silver lining was her speedy labour.
Bodhi arrived half an hour after contractions began, and luckily Tom was able to be by Kelsey’s side the whole time.
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Tom, 32, admits he “cried his eyes out” when he finally held his son – who weighed a healthy 6lb 3oz – in his arms.
It has been the most unimaginable few months for the young family, but they admit their little boy has provided the light they’ve so desperately needed amongst the darkness.
“He couldn’t have come at a better time,” Kelsey, 30, tells us. ”He’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Tom, who has a week of intensive chemo and radiotherapy left when we chat, reveals his bandmates from The Wanted have been “amazing”.
But he can’t help referencing Max George’s slip of the tongue on Lorraine – where he announced the baby news before the pair were able to do it themselves.
“We were going, ‘You k**bhead!’” Tom jokes, with Kelsey adding, “I texted him saying, ‘You’ve got a big mouth!’”
Here, the couple lift the lid on how Bodhi’s arrival has made Tom’s tumour news easier to cope with, how daughter Aureliais loving being a big sister and the support they’ve received around the world since going public with his condition…
Congrats on little Bodhi, he’s just gorgeous! Tell us about him…
Kelsey: He is the perfect baby – especially compared to having Aurelia first. I barely even know I’ve got him.
Tom: He’s so chilled. He’s so different to Aurelia – she was always very active.
Kelsey: From the moment she was born, we knew we had her!
Where did the name come from?
Kelsey: The film Point Break! We were watching it and my little brother, Bobby, was like, “Kels, I love the name Bodhi.” And we were like, “We’re not sure.” And we actually had the name when I was pregnant with Aurelia, if she was a boy. And then when we knew we were having a little boy, it was Bodhi the whole way. “Bodhi” means enlightenment, so it just goes perfectly with our situation right now. He’s the light at the end of our tunnel. Tom didn’t want the name. I said, “Tom, I don’t care what you say – we’re having Bodhi and that’s it.”
Tom: There we are. And his middle names are Thomas Paris…
Kelsey: Tom always wanted Paris. I just think I’m a bit too South London to have a little boy called Paris.
Was it important to have Thomas in there?
Kelsey: I think it’s a nice tradition to have Dad’s name in there somewhere.
You went into labour early. How did that happen?
Kelsey: Bodhi’s labour started during an episode of TOWIE! At 10pm my waters broke and then nothing happened. I rang my mum and she said, “Get some sleep, then ring me.” I rang her at 7am and said, “Nothing’s happened.” I rang the midwife, they came and checked me because I really wanted a home birth, but there was no sign of the baby. Then I went into hospital, was induced and there he was. He broke his own waters and then didn’t want to show himself!
How was the labour?
Kelsey: They tried pessaries and nothing happened. Then I went on the hormone drip and that kicked in within two minutes. When
I gave birth it all happened quite quickly – my birth time was 30 minutes!
That is fast. Was Tom able to be there?
Kelsey: He was there for the whole labour. The NHS was absolutely amazing. I obviously wanted a home birth because of the whole situation, but because we had to go to hospital they put us in isolation and fed Tom while he was there. They made us feel really welcome. He was able to stay the night as well.
It must have been nice to be there, Tom!
Tom: It really was! It all happened so quickly.
Kelsey: Tom was really good, because I said, “I don’t want an epidural, I just want gas and air.” And they asked him and he said, “She doesn’t want an epidural.” When I was in so much pain, I turned round to him and said, “Shall I get one?” And he was like, “Go for it.” They went to get one and by the time they came back I was fully dilated.
Tom: I was like, “Babe, I can see the head. We’re almost there.”
It must have been hard not being able to have your dream home birth…
Kelsey: It was sad, but maybe I was better off being at hospital. With the third I won’t even bother trying.
Do you want more children then?
Tom: She wants four!
Kelsey: I love kids, so it’s whether Tom wants four. I love having loads of people around me.
What was it like when you saw Bodhi for the first time?
Tom: It was so nice. I cried my eyes out!
Kelsey: Tom’s emotional anyway, and I’m the harder one. But I was so overwhelmed when he was born, because it happened so quickly. When the baby’s on you, you’re like, “I can’t believe it!” We were all crying.
Kelsey’s obviously up a lot doing the night feeds. Are you losing a lot of sleep, too, Tom?
Tom: I’m sleeping better than ever!
Kelsey: He’s having a lovely time. I’m up every two hours!
Tom: Yeah, it’s tough.
How’s breastfeeding going?
Kelsey: I really enjoy breastfeeding. I think it’s the lazier option than doing bottles. I’m so happy that it’s working for me the second time round and it’s easy. I’m fortunate.
How’s Bodhi’s arrival been for you, Tom?
Tom: It’s been a whirlwind the last few weeks. It’s been hard because I’ve not been able to be involved as much. But hopefully in a couple of weeks when the treatment’s ended I’ll be able to be a bit more hands-on, which I’m looking forward to. It’s been tough, not being as involved as I would like.
Kelsey: To be fair, he’s around and at home – it’s not like he’s not there. His job at the moment is to go and have his treatment, and some dads have to go back to work straight away anyway.
Kelsey, how are you feeling taking on most of the baby duties?
Kelsey: My life is hectic at the moment – running around after Aurelia, sorting a newborn and taking Tom to appointments, but I quite like a busy life. Mine and Tom’s families are absolutely amazing, too.
How are Aurelia and Bodhi getting on?
Tom: He’s the love of her life. She’s loving it.
Kelsey: She’s loving being a big sister – she’s obsessed with babies. When we brought Bodhi home, she was really excited to see him. There have been a few pokes and prods, but she’s quite happy.
Are you doing anything to make Aurelia feel more included?
Kelsey: I don’t think she’s the sort of kid who would let me leave her out of anything. In the mornings, I put Bodhi in her cot and she gives him a kiss. If anything, she thinks it’s her baby.
You’ve been at treatment this morning, Tom. How’s it going?
Tom: It’s tiring. It’s more the travel there, to be honest. But I’ve got a week to go of chemo and radiotherapy then I’m done.
Kelsey: And then we’re looking at the next stage of treatment. Tom is due to start an intensive course of immunotherapy in a few weeks, and then we are looking at a couple of different treatment options in Europe and America.
Will the latest lockdown affect anything?
Kelsey: No. And that’s why what’s happened to Tom has happened at a good time – if there’s ever a good time to have this. If he’d been diagnosed with this in March [before the last lockdown] I don’t know what his treatment plan would have been.
What’s the support been like since you announced the news of Tom’s tumour?
Kelsey: When the news broke in OK!, our phones went mental. Tom’s had messages from as far as America and Brazil, and people have been holding prayer groups.
Tom: I’ve had an outpouring of support. It’s been really nice.
Kelsey: And the people he’s been able to speak to…
Tom: Like surgeons and doctors.
Kelsey: He’s spoken to people in Australia, New York, Vienna, Bangladesh, Shanghai…
Have they been offering medical advice?
Tom: They’ve been providing treatment options. It’s been great. Emotionally, has it been easier to deal with the news now it’s been made public?
Kelsey: I said to Tom, “I think we should go public with it, because I believe a problem shared is a problem halved.” I thought it would be the case that so many people would reach out and they have. Further on down the line, when it comes to treatment, we have other inputs and other survivor stories. People have messaged saying, “My husband had [a brain tumour] and he’s 17 years down the line.” Tom needed to hear that. It gives you more focus, hope and faith.
Have those stories given you hope, Tom?
Kelsey: And Tom’s in a place he wasn’t in two weeks ago. He’s reached out to a lot of people who are going through the same thing, and it’s been good for him. What he’s feeling is normal.
Are the kids helping you to keep positive?
Kelsey: I’m a really positive person anyway.
Tom: I think in two weeks I’ve made massive progress dealing with everything.
Kelsey: Physically and mentally.
Has Bodhi lifted your spirits?
Kelsey: And it gives us something else to focus on, because it’s not all about Tom, it’s about our baby as well. He’s come at the best time and he’s perked Tom up loads. He’s been absolutely amazing and made our family complete.
What are your hopes for your children?
Kelsey: For them to be able to do what they want in life – and be better behaved than what their dad was!
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