The former sports presenter appeared on This Morning on Wednesday to raise awareness of the signs of different types of blood cancer, after the death of his wife Gemma to leukaemia in 2017.
He said his wife’s symptoms were “so obvious when I look back”, but at the time, the couple didn’t realise they were a sign of something so serious.
Thomas, who has a young son, fought back tears on the show as he revealed his wife had a “big bruise on her thigh”, which had been there for a number of weeks.
“I remember saying to her, ‘where’s that from?’. It came from a fall three weeks before when she’d broken her foot, but that bruise hadn’t gone,” he said. “This is one of the telltale signs that something could be wrong.”
Gemma died in November 2017 after a brief battle with acute myeloid leukaemia at just 40 years old.
She had complained of headaches for three weeks and had been to see her doctor three times. She ended up in A&E on a Monday, was diagnosed with blood cancer later that day, and passed away on the Friday.
The symptoms for different blood cancers can vary, but Thomas said many of the signs are and easy to dismiss. According to charity Bloodwise, some symptoms of blood cancer include:
Unexplained bruising or bleeding,
Unexplained weight loss,
Lumps or swellings,
Drenching night sweats,
Persistent, recurrent or severe infections,
Unexplained fever (38°C or above),
Unexplained rash or itchy skin,
Bone, joint or abdominal pain,
Tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep,
Unusually pale complexion (pallor).
Throughout September, Thomas has been using his Instagram account to raise awareness of blood cancer, by taking on 30 challenges in 30 days. One of the challenges saw him giving blood on live TV.
“Every morning I do an Instagram live highlighting these symptoms; weight loss, headaches that keep occurring, breathlessness and so on,” he said.
“They’re quite normal symptoms but if you cant explain why you have them, please go to your doctor.”
Since his wife’s death, Thomas has been incredibly open about his grief on social media, which has helped others feel less alone in their struggles and prompted them to share their own experiences of loss.
“Gemma was everything – my soul mate, my rock, the wind beneath my wings and a beautiful mum,” he tweeted in January last year.
“The pain of life without her is at times too much to bear but out of this heartbreak the light will shine again.”
For more information on the difference types of blood cancer – and varying symptoms – visit the Anthony Nolan website.