Australian actor Tom Long has reportedly died at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer.
Movie site The Curb tweeted on Sunday morning that the Seachange actor ‘has left us’.
“One of the finest actors Australia has ever been lucky to see. My heart goes out to his family,” the tweet read.
The great Tom Long has left us. One of the finest actors Australia has ever been lucky to see. My heart goes out to his family. pic.twitter.com/MLkmnN7lCk— The Curb (@TheCurbAU) January 4, 2020
Tom was a well-loved and familiar face on our TV screens.
Best known for his roles on The Dish, SeaChange and Two Hands, Tom suddenly disappeared from the public eye in 2012 after he collapsed on stage mid-way through a play at the Opera House.
He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Speaking on Channel 10’s The Sunday Project back in March, Tom opened up about his journey with the terminal diagnosis.
Shortly before collapsing on stage, Tom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and had started invasive treatment.
The former-actor said the prognosis was rough. “They said two to three years,” the actor told The Project.
“Essentially I thought, that’s it.”
For the past seven years the actor fought tooth and nail to beat, or at least delay, the deadly disease with bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy and even natural therapies.
And in the midst of it all, he found a new reason to fight.
The silver lining
Tom met his wife Rebecca Fleming, following his diagnosis, and initially hesitated in pursing a relationship, not wanting to drag his future wife into a difficult and potentially heartbreaking future.
The two met through Tom’s neighbour, who was a friend of Rebecca’s, and it seems that it was love at first sight.
Rebecca said when the couple first saw each other, their mutual friend noticed a ‘glance’ pass between them.
The two tied the knot in an intimate ceremony in country Victoria last year.
Just a month before their wedding, Tom received devastating news; his doctors predicated the soon to be groom had between three to 12 months to live.
But there was one doctor that wasn’t giving up that easily; Professor Miles Prince recommended that Tom undertake an innovative new therapy in the US.
The treatment, known as Car T-Cell therapy is aimed at reworking the immune system by harvesting white blood cells and genetically modifying them.
Under the treatment, the new modified cells are reintroduced and target the cancerous cells, remaining in the blood to fight off any resurgence of the cancer in the future.
Tom and his family put everything on the line for one last chance at saving his life.
What is Multiple Myeloma?
Myeloma is a blood cancer that effects plasma -a type of white blood cell – in bone marrow according to the Cancer Council Victoria.
Plasma are usually responsible for making antibodies to fight infection and repair cells.
When cancerous, plasma production overtakes normal blood cell production in the bone marrow, and the production of normal antibodies is reduced.
The cancer leaves normal blood cell production difficult, and the immune system decimated.
In 2018 among just under 2000 incidents of Myeloma in Australia, almost half were fatal.
Extra reporting by Penny Burfitt