A dad with terminal cancer is donating every penny his pals raised for his ‘bucket list’ to charity – so his two-year-old son can grow up proud of the father he’ll never know.
Luke Tormey, 28, turned down holidays in the Maldives and lessons with rally drivers to help the cancer hospital where doctors “tried everything” to let him see Max grow up.
He collapsed earlier this month while watching a sunset with his sister and nephews – and an emergency scan revealed he had 15 brain tumours.
Doctors later admitted there was no hope of survival, and with months left to live his mates raised nearly £4,000 in a matter of days for his ‘bucket list’.
But despite being moved to tears by their kindness, Luke decided to give every penny to charity – to leave a legacy his son will be proud of.
Speaking from hospital, the care home caretaker from Crowborough, East Sussex, said: “Max is my entire world.
“I’d turn down a hundred holidays if it gave him something to be proud of.
“I always thought I’d be there to see him start school, to take him to his first football match, to see him get married – all that stuff you just take for granted as a dad.
“Having all that disappear overnight was the worst thing. I’ve had a great life and if it’s my time to go then so be it, but I won’t see my son grow up and he’ll never get to know his dad.
“That’s really hard to come to terms with.
“I can’t put into words how touched I was when I heard someone had set up a GoFundMe page – and it set me off all over again when I saw how many people had donated.
“But when Max’s friends ask about me, I want him to be able to stick out his chest and say that his dad did his bit to make the world a better place.
“Max knowing I fought for him and being proud of how I lived my life is more important than anything else.
“That’s why I’m giving all the money away.”
Luke was first diagnosed with cancer when he was aged 20, after cells were found in a lump on his head.
He’s had it six times since – and was being treated for cancer of his lungs when doctors found the recent tumours.
He was days away from readmitted for lung treatment when he became ill while watching the sunset at Ashdown Forest with sister Rachel Whiting, 30, and his nephews, Sonny, seven, and Charlie, six.
He started slurring, and initially the family thought he was playing a joke, until he collapsed, leaving Rachel begging him not to die, on August 3.
Rachel added: “I thought he was messing around, but then he fell and I realized something was really wrong.
“I was crying in front of my boys going ‘please don’t die, not like this’.
“I genuinely thought I was going to lose him in that forest.”
He was rushed to hospital and an emergency scan in Tunbridge Wells revealed sine his last scan six weeks earlier, more than a dozen tumours had grown.
Docs at London’s Royal Marsden later admitted there was no hope of survival.
Rachel, who described her brother as her “best friend” added: “Even when he went in for a scan I was trying to tell myself that Luke had too much RedBull or something, because I just couldn’t imagine life without my best friend.
“When the doctors said he had three brain tumors and that they couldn’t do anything but make him comfortable, I felt like my world was ending.”
A family friend set up a funding page, which raised £3,745 on Go Fund Me in a matter of days – but it didn’t take Luke long to realise he wanted to leave it all to charity, to make his son proud.
He co-parents Max with his former partner.
He’s going to split the donations between The Royal Marsden Hospital, The Pickering Cancer drop-in Centre and Taylor Made Dreams Charity.
Luke added: “My world was turned upside down when I realised I’d never see Max grow up.
“That’s why I’m giving all the money away. A third is going to go to the Royal Marsden, because they treated me like family and did everything they could to let me see Max grow up.
“Then another third will go to the Pickering cancer drop-in centre in Tunbridge Wells, who do such amazing work to help people like me when their worlds have been turned upside down.
“The rest is going to Taylor Made Dreams in Crowborough.
“They take in kids with terminal illnesses and try to make their last days special with things like riding in Ferraris and meeting celebrities.
“So even if I don’t get to do my bucket list, this money will help at least one kid out there with theirs.”
Proud Rachel, who is married to husband Alex York, 36, added: “It’s amazing how many people have donated to that fundraiser, and we are all so touched by it.
“But Luke realised that at the end of his life, the thing that’s most important to him is that Max will grow up proud of who his dad was.
“Everyone at that hospital treated him like family, and even at his lowest they helped him fight for Max.
“Wanting to see Max grow up was the only thing that kept him going for so long, and the hospital gave him that chance.
“So for him, it was the obvious thing to do.
“He could have a nice holiday, or go skydiving, or anything really, but for him the most important thing is making Max proud of who his dad was.
“He’s my best friend and an absolutely amazing person.
“I’m totally in awe of him and what he’s done.”