Family battles with double cancer blow

Gemma Maryon with her son William, five
Gemma Maryon with her son William, five
  • Brain tumour diagnosis was ‘worst day’ of parents’ lives
  • William’s diagnosis came just weeks after dad Grant got the all clear from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • The family is holding its second pier to pier charity walk in May

A FAMILY that has been devastated by two cancer diagnoses is determined to remain strong.

Just weeks after Grant Pedersen, 30, of Penhill Road, Lancing, was given the all clear following a seven-month battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, his son William, now four, was diagnosed with having an inoperable brain tumour – a day his parents described as the worst of their lives.

Since the diagnosis on November 2, 2013, William has undergone aggressive chemotherapy treatment which has seen his tumour reduce in size from 5.4cm to 3.6cm. There has also been a change in the tumour’s consistency, from a bulky mass to fluid filled cells.

Grant’s fiancée and William’s mum Gemma, 33, said: “It’s been awful.

“It makes me want to cry just talking about it. It’s been extremely tough on us as a family. It feels like we are in a bubble at the moment. Hopefully it will burst and we can enjoy our lives.

“We think ‘why has it happened to us as a family?’

“Lightning shouldn’t strike twice and it has – we feel like the most unlucky people but we just stay strong.”

She added that William was brave and resilient little boy.

Last summer, the family organised a fundraising walk from Brighton Pier to Worthing Pier, which raised £10,000 for William. Gemma said once he has finished his treatment she would like to take him to Disney World Florida and Lapland.

“It was such a great day last year. It wasn’t just the money it was a great atmosphere having everyone together,” said Gemma.

Following the success of last year’s pier to pier walk, another one has been arranged for May 16 in aid of Tyler’s Trust – which provides gift boxes for children suffering from brain tumours and life threatening illnesses.

The idea for the trust was thought up by Tyler Murphy, 17, from Orchard Way, in Barnham, while he was receiving treatment for a brain tumour.

William and his brother Henry, two, received a gift box from the trust earlier this year and the 17-year-old will join the family on the last leg of the walk. William will also complete the last part of the walk after missing out last year because of his poor health.

Grant’s diagnosis came only weeks after the birth of the couple’s second son Henry, at the beginning of 2013.

Gemma said: “When you have a newborn baby you want to enjoy it.

“I felt we couldn’t enjoy Henry because Grant got diagnosed. It was really tough on Grant. He didn’t want to go out, he wanted to stay in and roll up for six months.”

Despite the difficulties surrounding bringing up a baby in such circumstances, Gemma said Henry has kept them smiling throughout and helped them to ‘plod through it’.

Grant was also keen to praise Gemma.

He said: “Gemma has been so good to all of us. When I wasn’t well she was there for me in and out the hospital as well as looking after the kids. Without her I don’t know what we would have done.”

The convoy will leave Brighton Pier at 10am and aims to reach Worthing Pier by 2pm. The family would welcome well-wishers at the finish line.

To make a donation, visit or for more information on the walk, search William’s Wishing Well on Facebook.