A YOUNG Huddersfield man is battling cancer in a California hospital.
But Tom Walshaw also faces another desperate fight – to meet massive hospital and medical bills.
The costs of his leukaemia treatment are expected to soar well past the £1m mark and he has only limited medical insurance, as he has been caught in a Stateside benefits muddle.
Now family and friends in Huddersfield and the other side of the Atlantic have started a fundraising appeal to help Tom and his young wife Laura.
Tom, 26, faces several more weeks in hospital but will then have to have 24-hour care at home, meaning Laura will not be able to work.
Tom grew up in Fixby, Huddersfield, and went to Rastrick High School.
His uncle David Walshaw said he moved to the US at the age of 18 when his dad got a job in Santa Cruz, California.
His grandparents and other family members still live in Huddersfield.
David said: “Tom met his wife Laura soon after moving out there, they fell in love and were married in July 2011.
“In the same year Tom and Laura graduated at Cabrillo College, Chico State, where Tom got his bachelor’s degree in business management – also being named top student – and Laura in child development.
“Life for Tom and Laura was great as they were both about to start their careers. Tom was hired out of college to do a manager in training (MIT) programme, so they moved from Chico to Rocklin to start his new job and excitedly started looking for their first home.
“But suddenly in July 2012, shortly after being employed permanently, Tom began to feel ill.
“Not long after visiting the doctor they received the devastating news that Tom had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, commonly found in children.”
Tom began intense chemotherapy treatment in order to wipe out 99% of his bone marrow, leaving him highly susceptible to secondary infections.
Now he has just undergone a bone marrow transplant and is recovering in hospital.
David added: “He has some limited medical insurance, but because he is not a US citizen and because he had not been working very long, he cannot get full benefits.
“The insurance companies are also arguing over the costs of the drugs, which are likely to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“We have been warned his total medical bill could be around $2m as it could be two years before he is given the all-clear.”
Tom is a huge fan of Huddersfield Giants and he and Laura held a wedding reception at the Stadium.
Club supporters have backed the appeal to help him.
The UK appeal fund has a number of events planned in the summer, which includes Tom’s school reunion and a sponsored cycle race in July.
To help the Tom Walshaw Medical Fund Appeal visit www.paypal.com and then send your donations to the email address: email@example.com (send as a gift)
Follow his fund on Twitter: @TomwMedicalfund and you can join the Facebook group by searching: The Tom Walshaw Medical Group.