THE FATHER of a teenager who lost his battle with bone cancer on Boxing Day is calling on local sports teams to make their young players aware of the symptoms.

Tom Stead was just 19-years-old when he passed away on December 26 following a two-year battle with osteosarcoma, a primary bone cancer which mainly affects young people aged 10 to 24.

His father Graham, who lives in Finchampstead, is now calling on the FA and County FA’s to help raise awareness of the disease.

Mr Stead said: “Tom was a keen footballer and in early 2016 he started suffering pain in his knee, which we put down to a sports injury. We were due to go on a skiing holiday so we took him to see a physiotherapist who suggested he got it checked out.”

Tom was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in March 2016 and spent the remainder of that year undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and a replacement knee operation.

In early 2017 the cancer returned to the back of the same knee, so the teenager underwent another operation followed by six weeks of radiotherapy. He returned to college in September and enjoyed a holiday with his family, but by November he started to feel unwell again. Sadly, the cancer had returned and spread to his lungs, and Tom passed away less than two months later.

Mr Stead said: “Reading FC did a big push for fundraising ahead of the Brentford game a couple of weeks ago, and so far we have raised more than £22,000, but more than anything we want to raise awareness of the condition.

“A lot of the symptoms can be easily dismissed as ‘growing pains’ or sports injuries, but it is vital that parents know to get their kids checked out. We don’t want to cause any unnecessary worry but it is important that people know what signs to look out for.”

Almost all osteosarcomas start in the long bones of the arms and legs, most commonly the lower thigh bone, the upper shin bone and the upper arm bone. However, other bones can be affected such as the jaw, spine and pelvis.

A large percentage of the money raised by Mr Stead and his family will go towards the Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT), which is developing ways to reduce the time it takes for cases to be diagnosed.

Mr Stead said: “Because it is so rare, osteosarcoma is often missed by GPs who will put the symptoms down to something else. 

“We have a goal of £100,000 to raise for the BCRT, as well as the Kamran’s Ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital where Tom spent a lot of his time during treatment. A lot of youngsters with the disease are treated there so we want to help kit out the ward with games consoles, toys and books to make their time there as pleasant as it can be.

“I thought it would take about a year, but so far we have had about 10 people link their fundraising to Tom’s page which is fantastic. A big thanks to all of them.”

For now, Mr Stead is contacting the heads of local football associations to try to raise awareness of the warning signs of the disease which took his son’s life.

He said: “If we can get emails sent out to every youngster who plays sport in the country, detailing the symptoms and what to check for, that would be a great result.”

For more information on osteosarcoma visit To donate to the fundraising page visit