Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were moved to tears on Tuesday’s (27 February) ‘This Morning’, as former ‘Blue Peter’ presenter Simon Thomas recounted how he shared the news of his wife’s death with his eight-year-old son.
In November, Simon’s wife, Gemma, visited her doctors to complain of a headache. After three visits in under a week, and a dash to A&E, Gemma was eventually diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
Sadly, she died just three days after her diagnosis, leaving the couple’s eight-year-old son, Ethan, without a mum.
In his first TV interview since Gemma’s death, Simon’s emotional story had presenters Holly and Phil in tears, as he detailed how he told Ethan of the tragic news.
“I looked into his deep brown eyes and said, ‘Ethan I’m really sorry they couldn’t make mummy better... mummy’s died’,” he said.
“He collapsed onto the floor. I collapsed with him. I just held him. I would never wish that on my worst enemy.”
With tears rolling down her cheeks, Holly had to take a moment to compose herself, apologising to Simon for becoming emotional.
Simon went on to say that leaving the hospital to tell Ethan what had happened was the hardest moment of his life, explaining how he kept thinking about how distraught he had been over a lost teddy just 18 months earlier.
“I came out of the hospital and I think I woke up every patient there... and I just screamed,” Simon said. “I screamed at God ‘why have you left my boy without a mum?’.”
During the emotionally-charged interview, Simon revealed Gemma had first gone to the doctors following a conversation with him about his mental health.
“I had been off work with anxiety and depression that literally came out of nowhere,” he explained.
“I did say a few times to her, ‘You know this headache has been going on for a while’. We ended up having a joint appointment, which was mainly about getting more medication for my depression.
“She came in with me and I said, ‘You know she’s had this headache for ages are you worried?’ The doctor said, ‘I think a lot of it’, and I completely understand why he said this, ‘a lot of this is down to the fact she is stressed… about you’.”
A few days later, her condition had worsened and she returned to the doctors, before later being rushed to A&E. Simon’s world then came crashing down when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
“On the Monday night at the Royal Berkshire [hospital]... I fainted. We knew it was a blood cancer of some sort, it’s a leukaemia of some sort… we thought we are probably ok, people get better from this. It all cart wheeled quite quickly,” Simon said.
After being undergoing a round of chemotherapy, Gemma was told she had a 50% chance of survival, but she died three days after her diagnosis.
As Simon recalled his last conversation with her, he lamented the fact he’d never had a chance to say goodbye.
“When you hear of people getting ill and being told they have weeks or months to live you have those chances to talk about it to try and at least get your head round it and have those final conversations. I never had that,” he said.
“I took her to the loo at 4.30 in the morning, she had been perfectly fine the night before. Over that night she became more and more confused. I put her back in to bed at about 4.30. That was the last time I spoke to her.
“I thought she was going to sleep but as I found out she was falling unconscious and I never had the chance to even say goodbye.”
Looking to the future, Simon revealed he is going to raise money for charity in his wife’s name when he feels the time is right.
“I have to do something in the memory of Gemma,” he said.
‘This Morning’ airs weekdays at 10.30am on ITV.