Leeds cancer battler's reunion delight

A man with a rare form of leukaemia has been reunited with his two long-lost sons after 25 years.

Tom Philipson also heard about grandchildren he didn't know existed after his sons heard about his plight.

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Mr Philipson told the YEP: "In many ways it's been the most horrible time of my life and in other respects it's been absolutely wonderful."

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The 61-year-old, of Yeadon, has been told the only effective treatment for his disease is a bone marrow transplant in 2011.

He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and at an appointment with a specialist in September 2009, was told it would probably never need any treatment.

However the condition began to worsen and tests showed the illness wasn't the usual type so the normal treatment would not be effective. Only 5 per cent of those with CLL have the same type as Mr Philipson.

In August he started four months of chemotherapy at the Bexley Wing at St James's Hospital in Leeds.

"I'm now in remission," he said. "But without treatment it is likely to come back within 12 months to two years."

Medics have told him a bone marrow transplant is the next option and he is currently undergoing tests and early in the new year will learn if he is suitable.

Just after the cancer diagnosis, Mr Philipson's wife June received an out-of-the-blue phone call at their home.

"My eldest son rang who I had not seen for 25 years," he said.

"I found out I'd got a 15-year-old grandson and a four-year-old granddaughter I did not know about."

Mr Philipson's first marriage had split up many years before and he had lost touch with his two eldest sons, Glenn and Gary, now aged 38 and 37. He has now been reunited with them and all the family, including him and June's children Laura, 25, and Stuart, 18, have been brought together.

"We have all been reunited and both sets of kids get on well.

"I never imagined that my older sons would get in touch again. It was a very emotional reunion."

Since meeting again, Mr Philipson has also become a granddad for a third time, to baby Harrison.

He says his strong Christian faith has helped him cope with the difficult times and gives him strength for the future.

The retired joiner has also been supported by his wife and family, especially daughter Laura recently shaved her head in aid of the Yorkshire Cancer Centre and the Leeds Cancer Research UK Centre, both at St James's.

By Katie Baldwin Health reporter

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