Classmates organise prom for teen with cancer

CHAMPAGNE corks pop, laughter roars and fizz fills a sea of glasses.

Jak Trueman with girlfriend Hannah Boyd. Picture: comp
Jak Trueman with girlfriend Hannah Boyd. Picture: comp

CHAMPAGNE corks pop, laughter roars and fizz fills a sea of glasses.

High school proms have become a rite of passage for teenagers preparing to leave school – a joyous farewell to years of drab classrooms and endless studying.

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But one glitzy black-tie bash in Livingston this Saturday may be a little different.

It has been hastily arranged to offer a treasured pupil an experience he will never forget – and his classmates the chance to say goodbye.

Brave Jak Trueman and girlfriend Hannah Boyd are certain to be crowned prom King and Queen at the West Calder High School formal because the event is being held in his honour.

Just days ago, the 15-year-old was given the devastating news that the rare form of cancer he has battled since August has become untreatable.

The heartbreaking development has prompted teachers, schoolmates and businesses to create a “magical night” for the couple and stage the prom years early.

This weekend, up to 170 S4 pupils and staff will celebrate their school prom at the home of Livingston FC prematurely to give Jack and Hannah an evening to treasure forever.

Jak’s mum, Allison Barr, said she hopes it will give the couple, who have been together for 20 months, an incredible experience.

“I think Jak will love it,” she said. “Jak and Hannah are exceptionally close and I think it is absolutely magical that they’ve done this for both of them.

“It is overwhelming what the school has arranged and I think it is going to be a really special time.

“I just hope that everything lasts until then and they can both enjoy it.

“The situation is really hard on both Hannah and his sister, Aimie, so the fact the school organised for them both to get their hair and nails done as well is so thoughtful.

“It’s fabulous that they have managed to organise it at such short notice.”

Jak, a keen musician, had been suffering from a throat infection when he went to take his grade five tuba exam in June, causing him to narrowly miss out on getting a 

The following month, he went to Tenerife on holiday with Hannah’s family, and began suffering bouts of sickness and diarrhoea.

He quickly lost two stone in weight.

Doctors initially diagnosed a bug before Jak was admitted to St John’s Hospital with breathing difficulties. He was given oxygen but his lungs started to fill with fluid and he was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Sick Kids, where he underwent an emergency chest drain.

It was feared Jak had contracted a tropical disease. But medics returned to take samples of bone marrow.

Jak, a goalie with Mid Calder Colts Under-16s, was then placed into an induced coma for nearly nine days.

Soon after he woke, doctors told the family he had a very rare form of blood cancer – Gammadelta T-cell lymphoma – and, without treatment, would have one year to live.

Jak responded well to initial rounds of chemotherapy with doctors hopeful they could cure the illness.

He was all set for a bone marrow transplant last week until bloodwork displayed 
worrying signals.

Further tests showed the cancer had spread to Jak’s bones and vital organs, with doctors saying there was little more they could do.

The family, from Mid Calder, made the difficult decision to stop treatment and enjoy the time they have left, with minimal time in hospital.

They are aiming to raise £15,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

“There’s no point moping about – I want to make every moment count,” said Jak.

“I just want to make other people happy. I want other people to get something out of what has unfortunately happened to me.

“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what we have as a family. It has been very, very difficult for everyone.”

The Rangers fan is set to meet his favourite players at Murray Park this week and they are hoping to get hospitality tickets for the Rangers v Celtic League Cup clash on Sunday.

And he has urged mother Allison, 44, who runs musical theatre group Star Harmonies, to become a counsellor and support families suffering similar hardships to their own.

Jak has suggested they open a cafe for cancer patients who are unable go to mainstream restaurants because they struggle to fight infections.

Allison added: “We don’t know how long he has but we are going to make the most of every precious moment.

“We’re going to get out there and do everything he wants to do and spend as much precious time as we can as a family.

“On Thursday night he said to me: ‘Please mum, promise me one thing – you won’t go all soppy, promise me you’ll get on with life and be happy’.”

“The way he is handling it and his positive outlook is absolutely phenomenal. A lot of people have said they are humbled by him and that they are going to be changed forever by his attitude. He is just unbelievable.

“It will not be in vain, we will make sure that his name lives on for a very long time.”


By Kirsty Potter, Scottish fundraising manager at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

“Jak’s determination that no other patients should have to go through what he has is truly inspirational. The generosity means he has already raised an amazing amount of money. Every penny makes a difference and will go towards finding better treatments and improving survival rates.”

Tommy dyes beard pink for breast cancer charity

A MAN has dyed his beard pink after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Tommy Todd, from North Berwick, made the gesture in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

His facial hair will remain shocking pink until September, and when his wife goes into remission, he plans to dye it bright green.

Tommy has already raised more than £2750 of his £5700 target through donations from family and friends.

A keen golfer who plays at North Berwick West Links, Mr Todd also uses pink golf balls and tees.

He will also don fuchsia trousers in the warmer months when he plans to caddie for visiting golfers, with all proceeds going to the charity.

Mr Todd said his beard attracted “a lot of attention” wherever he goes.

He added: “Hopefully I can smash my target and raise as much money as possible to help beat this awful disease. Everyone knows someone affected by breast cancer so it’s crucial that we continue to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s vital research and help save lives.

“While the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer is improving all the time, with more women than ever surviving the disease, the charity is continually working to stop breast cancer for good.”

Victoria Sampson at Breakthrough Breast Cancer said she really appreciated the hard work of all their supporters and wished Tommy every success.