Terminally ill dad dies after raising $500,000 for daughter's cancer treatments
When a terminally ill father received his diagnosis, he raised $500,000 to ensure that his 6-year-old then-step-daughter receives life-saving cancer treatments before he died. The 32-year-old father died Tuesday afternoon after battling a brain tumor for three years.
Tom Attwater fought to prolong his life as long as possible to ensure his step-daughter Kelli would receive pioneering medical care she might need for her neuroblastoma. She endured the cancer when she was 3 months old and again when she was 3 years old. Doctors predict that she will likely relapse.
That's why Tom swore that he would not die until he knew he had done everything he possibly could to make sure Kelli lives a long life. He died Tuesday in his Pattingham, West Midlands home surrounded by his family. His widow Joely, 28, said:
"Tom gave me the happiest moments of my life and I am in indescribable pain now he has gone. I knew one day I would lose him but did not think it would be this soon. This is a very tough time for Kelli. We explained that daddy's 'naughty lump' in his head couldn't be cured and that one day he would go to heaven while she was still a child."
Kelli and Tom were extremely close. Tom even got to walk Kelli down the aisle during his wedding to Joely. Joely said:
"It meant so much to Tom to walk Kelli down the aisle at our wedding because he knew he wouldn't be there when she is a bride, and Kelli knew this. She will cherish that moment forever. When we found out that the time was getting close I gently explained to Kelli that daddy would have to leave us soon. It was the most difficult moment of my life. Kelli is a daddy's girl and she will struggle to adjust without her wonderful, loving father."
Despite battling his own terminal illness, Tom never stopped working to ensure that Kelli will receive all cancer treatments she may need. He put both Kelli and his 5-month-old son, Fletcher before his own needs. Joely said:
"Tom was my hero. His drive to help Kelli astounded all who knew him. Despite his extreme fatigue and daily seizures, he got out of bed every day to help fundraise. He wanted me to know that although he wouldn't live to any age, Kelli would have the very best chance of life. Thank you to every single person who donated to Kelli's appeal. Once the target was reached, Tom was able to relax and enjoy time with his family. We have such precious memories of him and will miss him unbearably."
When Tom was 29 years old, doctors discovered a cancerous mass in his brain called an astrocytoma. Before he died, he recalled receiving the diagnosis. He said:
"I remember asking doctors if I had days, weeks, months or years to live and feeling I was trapped in a film. The overwhelming feeling was an urge to make the most of every day I have left with my family."
Although he was tempted to give up and feel badly for himself, Tom dedicated the rest of his time to raising the necessary funds for Kelli. He said:
"I can't just lie in bed feeling sorry for myself when there is so much more to be done to save Kelli. My own health is not my main concern because I have no chances left and Kelli does."
After raising the money for Kelli, Tom's next bucket list goals were marrying Joely and having a child together. In April 2014, Tom and Joely got married the same day Tom formally adopted Kelli. Soon afterward, Joely became pregnant with Fletcher.
Watch this video to see how difficult it can be to raise necessary funds for children's cancer treatments:
More from AOL.com:
13-year-old girl dies from bacterial infection linked to tampons after doctors misdiagnose her
Little girl just wants parents to get along in adorable viral video
92-year-old man sings sweet love song to dying wife