Jack Thumwood lived in Colchester with his mum Alli, dad Jim and older sister Sophie.
He was born on 21st December 1995 and he appeared to be a healthy baby.
When he was 2 years old, tests showed that Jack had a brain tumour, although it was benign he needed surgery to remove it.
During his recovery, Jack began developing other symptoms.
“He was going through puberty at three years old. He was aggressive, had developed pubic hair, acne and a very deep male voice.”
It was discovered that Jack had another tumour on the adrenal gland, which was causing him to process higher levels of testosterone and to go through puberty.
This time, the tumour was malignant and had grown up through the main artery into his heart and Jack needed more surgery and chemotherapy.
The treatment was successful and Jack was clear for six years.
He was coming up to ten years old when he started to be sick and lethargic - symptoms of a highly malignant form of brain cancer.
Jack was having further treatment when he started to go to Little Havens for respite and the hospice played a huge part in the last two years of his life.
Jack remained relatively well until two further tumours returned and further treatment didn’t work for him. He spent the last three months of his life being cared for at home, where he died aged 14.
He was then taken to Little Havens where he stayed in the Woodland Suite during the week before his funeral, a time the family say was crucial.
“You hear some horror stories of families who haven’t had the surroundings of a hospice and they’ve had such a different experience to us. Jack was laid out in the Woodland Suite, he had his Manchester United blanket over him, his clothes on and music playing. The thought of Jack being in a mortuary drawer in hospital? No, no way. At Little Havens, we could still sit and talk to him. It gave us a whole week to say our farewells. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I really wouldn’t.”
Jim, Jack’s dad
Before Jack died he started writing his autobiography. Sadly, he died before he had the chance to finish it. In his own words,
“I’m 13, yet I’ve experienced what some may experience in a lifetime. I’ve always loved my life and got on with it no matter what it throws at me whether it is danger, excitement, fear and so on. People have described me as incredible, courageous, amazing, brave, an inspiration and I envy all of those words. Deep down I’ve been very emotional throughout tough stages in my life and have fought well.”
Jack was a huge Manchester United fan and when someone donated a trip to the club’s grounds to meet the players and watch a match, Little Havens offered it to Jack and his Dad (a Manchester City fan!). He also loved his fast cars and had a spin in a few Lamborghini’s at the Little Havens ‘Track Day’.
“Jack loved life,” said Alli.
“He was a normal lad, he liked girls, he loved fast cars, and he was so happy, he really was. He was very intelligent, and he always had to have the last word! He would have achieved so much.”
“He was very witty and came out with some great one liners. He was a very polite boy as well. And he loved his cup of tea. My brother once said ‘Jack loved life from a cup of tea to a Lamborghini.’ And he did.”